Many families, and probably some clinicians, have relied on the notion that COVID-19 poses less risk for serious outcomes in young children than it does for adults. The problem is, that idea has been shown in multiple studies and data sets to be exaggerated. Now a new study published by Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report adds more evidence that vigilance may be more important than ever, considering the ongoing emergence of new variants and uncertain future of vaccination for the youngest among us. Covering essentially the breadth of the pandemic in the United States’ (March 2020–February 2022), the study reveals that the Omicron variant seems to have had a more widespread effect on children 0 to 4 years of age than other iterations of the virus, based on the fact that the rate of COVID-related hospitalizations among those children was roughly five times as great as it was for other variants. Perhaps most surprising—and alarming—is the fact that babies less than 6 months of age had the highest rate of hospitalization. Indicators of severity of illness, such as the need for respiratory support, did not differ among age groups, however. The authors identified several important public health implications related to their findings, including the necessity of vaccination for all currently eligible populations but especially pregnant women, family members of younger children, and anyone who functions as a caregiver of infants and young children.
Vigilance for Signs of COVID-19 Is (Still) Essential for Minimizing Risk in Young Children