COVID-19 In Children: Latest US News

June 8, 2022
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According to the most recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association, more than 87,000 cases of Covid-19 in children were reported in the United States in the week ending June 2nd. 

Moreover, the report stated that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, a total of 13.4 million children have tested positive for the virus. 

A staggering 376,000 of these cases have been confirmed in the past four weeks alone. 

But that’s not all. Here are more statistics on children affected by the COVID-19 virus in their latest summary report:

  • Nearly 5.6 million cases of Covid-19 in children have been reported so far in 2022
  • 18.9% of COVID-19 cases in the United States involve children
  • Thirteen states reported more than 24,000 cases involving children per 100,000 cases
  • Only three states reported fewer than 30,000 COVID-19 cases in children
  • California reported the most cumulative cases of COVID-19 in children with 1,677,499

* Age range for children varies in different states. The broadest age range is from 0-20 in Tennessee, while the shortest age range is from 0-14 in Utah.

The AAP asserted that there is an immediate need to collect more age-specific data and records to assess the severity of illness caused by new variants and their potential long-term effects. 

Notably, “we need to identify and address the long-term effects on the physical, mental, and social well-being of this generation’s children and youth,” the AAP report stated.

* You may view the full report from the AAP here

COVID-19 health risks to children in the US

Myocarditis or pericarditis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 12-17 instances of myocarditis or pericarditis per 100,000 cases among male children aged 5 to 11 years old who tested positive for COVID-19. For female children, the incidence was lower at around 5 to 11 per 100,000 cases. 

The risk of COVID-induced cardiac damage is directly proportional to age as the rate increases to 50-65 cases per 100,000 infections among male children aged 12-17. For girls aged ≥12, the range of myocarditis or pericarditis after a COVID-19 infection was around 12-62 per 100,000 cases

Although cardiac injury due to acute COVID-19 appears uncommon, the increased risk of contracting the infection in the male gender is still something to be wary of.

It is advised that patients with a severe COVID-19 infection rest for 3 to 6 months and resume regular activity only after being given a cardiac clearance.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) 

The Mayo Clinic defines MIS-C as a serious syndrome among children that can be linked to the COVID-19 virus. It is a series of different symptoms that can include the following:

  • Fever that lasts more than a day
  • Skin rash
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Redness or swelling of the lips, tongue, hands, or feet
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Lightheadedness  

According to the CDC, “The elevated inflammatory state can lead to the manifestation of severe organ dysfunction; in a study of 4,470 pediatric patients with MIS-C in the United States, 80% of patients experienced severe cardiovascular symptoms, 74% mucocutaneous symptoms, 60% severe hematologic symptoms, 44% severe respiratory symptoms, and 25% severe gastrointestinal symptoms.”

The cause for the syndrome has yet to be confirmed as of this writing. According to AAP, experts are still in the data collection phase for long-term outcomes. 

COVID-19 in children: Mental health 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in cases of young people seeking support for mental health. 

From recent data released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), 70% of schools reported an increase in students seeking mental health support.

The data also showed that 96% of schools have provided mental health support to their students since last year. However, 88% of public schools insist that there is still a lack of support, especially with the limited number of mental health professionals and inadequate funding. 

The direct effects of COVID-19 infection in children are also causing growing concern to health professionals. A subset of children have presented with both short and longer term neurological symptoms. 

Common “brain-related” COVID-19 symptoms in children include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Memory issues
  • Loss of taste and smell

While these symptoms usually resolve in about a week after infection, there have been cases where children suffer longer term effects.

“In more severe cases, including MIS-C, patients can develop confusion, altered mental status, trouble with walking and/or coordination, strokes, and brain damage,” explained Dr S. Nick Russo, M.D., pediatric neurologist at UT Health and Children’s Memorial Hermann in Houston. 

It is feared that there is a risk some symptoms may also become permanent conditions.

COVID-19 vaccination for children in the US

According to the CDC, children aged 5 to 11 are qualified to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech as of this writing.

Several vaccines that have been administered to children come in two, three, or more doses. 

Certain vaccinations necessitate a booster dose. And the flu shot, for example, is administered annually to protect against new strains.

The COVID-19 vaccine series recommended for children consists of two separate doses administered 3 to 8 weeks apart. The COVID-19 shot for children aged 5 to 11 is issued 21 days apart at a lower dose than the dose recommended for those 12 years old and up.

If it has been at least five months since their second COVID-19 vaccine dose, all children aged five and older are recommended to get a booster shot as soon as possible.

Moreover, an additional primary vaccine series and a booster dose are recommended for some children and adolescents five years and older who have any underlying medical conditions or who take immunosuppressant medications.

Final word

If your child is due for a checkup and you are particularly worried about their exposure to the COVID-19 virus, discuss safety precautions with your child’s pediatrician. 

It can be difficult for children to adhere to precautions against the COVID-19 virus. After all, they will more likely just follow your lead.

It is of the utmost importance to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines and undergo COVID-19 testing whenever you experience its symptoms. The results of your COVID-19 test can help healthcare professionals make informed choices about treatment options and, most importantly, limit its spread. 

To request a free COVID-19 testing kit, please click here.

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