Aug. 4, 2021 -- As schools reopen across the United States, COVID-19 cases among children and teenagers have risen sharply in the past month, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Almost 72,000 cases were added the past week, a substantial increase from the prior week, when about 39,000 cases were reported,” the AAP said in a news release. “After declining in early summer, child cases have steadily increased in July.”
Children accounted for 19% of cases in the U.S. for the week ending July 29, the AAP reported.
"That's high. And considering the fact that we are vaccinated now, what that's telling us is that unvaccinated people are getting infected in higher numbers because the virus is more infectious with the Delta variant," said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford Medicine. She’s also chairwoman for the AAP committee on infectious diseases.
"Our sense is because kids can't get vaccinated, parents should clearly be vaccinated themselves, and if their kids are 12 and older, they should be vaccinated as well," she said.
The AAP report comes as children across the nation return to classrooms with face mask and vaccine requirements varying from place to place.
Of the 25 million children in the U.S. ages 12-17, about 10.9 million have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, CNN reported, citing CDC data. Children 12 and up can get vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for children 18 and up.
The AAP said 4.2 million children have tested positive for COVID since the start of the pandemic.
“At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children,” the AAP said. “However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.”