In the last four weeks, the average number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. jumped 52 %, from 1,270 on Nov. 29 to 1,933 on Sunday, according to an NBC News analysis of Department of Health and Human Services data.
And in 10 states, as well as in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, the number of kids hospitalized with COVID has more than doubled, according to the analysis. The data does not specify whether the children were vaccinated or vaccine-eligible.
But the states that have contributed the most to the rise in pediatric hospitalizations are Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.
Dr. Buddy Creech, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said the contagiousness of omicron serves as the latest reminder that children are not immune to COVID.
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"We saw similar things happen when the delta variant came along," he said. "We had taken for granted that children were relatively under-affected by COVID, and we saw an uptick in the number of children infected and therefore admitted to the hospital with complications."
In general, pediatric COVID cases are mild compared with those of adults. But kids can develop serious complications, including long-haul COVID and an inflammatory syndrome that reaches several organs, called MIS-C. The syndrome is most common in children ages 5 to 11.
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