Sometimes it seems like the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to get behind us: Workplaces are opening, schools are powering through, and many people are planning holiday gatherings in-person this year. But for American kids, the pandemic really isn’t over yet, as cases among children are rising again, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Kids’ COVID cases have now topped 100,000 per week for the 15th week in a row.
Back at the end of June, COVID cases in kids dropped to about 8,400 per week, the AAP notes. During the height of the Delta wave, caseloads shot up to more than 250,000 per week in American kids, before dropping again by the end of October. But in the past few weeks, pediatric coronavirus cases have started rising again, and the past week saw more than 140,000 new cases.
The percentage of total cases occurring in children has also risen since the start of the pandemic. This is likely because many kids weren’t eligible for vaccination until recently. As many adults got immunized, kids became a larger percentage of the population more susceptible to infection. Last week, kids were over 25% of the weekly reported cases, despite being only 22.2% of the country’s population, according to the AAP.
Cases are rising in the U.S. generally, though not quite reaching the peak levels from the Winter 2020-2021 and Delta waves of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This could complicate holiday plans as no one wants to bring the virus to their relatives, especially if that includes unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children, or anyone who is immunocompromised.
Serious illness, hospitalization, and death among kids as a result of COVID complications is still much rarer than it is in adults. But children are susceptible to a multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) associated with the virus, long COVID, and they can spread the illness to at-risk members of their family and community.
The most important thing you can do to protect your family and help COVID cases decline is to get your kids vaccinated. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is now available to everyone aged 5 and up, and kids’ doses are readily available in many places. The vaccine is safe and effective – and available to everyone for free.