BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The number of children admitted to hospitals because of COVID-19 in New York has increased dramatically over the past few weeks. The New York State Department of Health released a new report showing the effects of the winter surge on children. The study stated that hospitalizations among children (under 18) had increased “more than seven-fold statewide.” The largest increase in hospitalizations comes from the New York City area.
Also included in this data, children hospitalized for other reasons and then testing positive for COVID-19 while at the hospital.
Locally, Oishei Children’s Hospital has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Stephen Turkovich, the Chief Medical Officer at Oishei Children's Hospital, said the number of children hospitalized has always increased with each wave of the pandemic, but this Omicron wave is different.
Turkovich said hospitalization numbers for pediatric cases of symptomatic COVID-19 in January is on pace to exceed totals from November and December.
In November, 28 children were admitted for COVID-19 at Oishei's. In December, 43 were. For the first six and half days of January, the hospital has already seen 24 cases. Those are pediatric COVID-19 hospitalization numbers not seen during the pandemic in Western New York.
“We’re on track to have over one hundred children admitted this month with symptomatic COVID. In addition, we have other kids who are admitted for other reasons who happen to test positive for COVID. So, our raw number for total cases, and also the number of kids who are being admitted with symptomatic COVID-19 is going up significantly. It’s up about four-fold,” said Turkovich.
Turkovich said the best protection for all children is vaccination. Even for children who are too young to be vaccinated, the more people in their family vaccinated, the better protected they are from the Omicron variant.
“The more people that are vaccinated, the less cases we’ll have and the less likelihood that those who can’t get vaccinated, like the youngest kids, will get COVID,” said Turckovich.
Of the children admitted to Oishei’s for COVID-19 most are under five years old.
According to the New York State Department of Health report:
“Among children admitted to the hospital for or with COVID-19 during the week of December 20-26, 2021, 4% of 5 to 11 year olds were vaccinated and 91% were unvaccinated. 26% of 12 to 17 year olds were vaccinated and 65% were unvaccinated.”
“It’s unfortunate that kids are bearing the brunt of a lot of this disease, especially those that are less than five and are not eligible for the vaccine. They actually make up a majority of the kids being admitted,” said Turkovich.