The continued surge of COVID’s new variants coming back only when the country seems to look poised towards recovery has exhausted the medical workers, amid this non-stop resurgence of bad news, there’s worse news. The Omicron variant of COVID has made the infection rate extremely high in children.

There has been a record-high number of children hospitalized due to COVID in recent days, hospitalizations that can be prevented if those children are vaccinated to protect them from the worst effects of the virus. There already has been a devastating impact on children who have lost parents and guardians due to COVID previously, now many are suffering from the virus themselves.

Despite a large number of U.S. population already vaccinated, the number of vaccinations among children is still low, considering it has not been long since the first vaccination approval for children and teens came along. However, ever since the vaccine has been approved, there have been major divisions among people who believe children should be vaccinated against those that oppose the decision. If the former was the case for the majority, the current situation would not have arisen. Since the two months that vaccines for 5-11 year-olds have been approved, only 14% of children from that age group have been fully vaccinated. The ratio is 53% among 12-17 year-olds.

An infectious-disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Paul Offit said, “It’s just so heartbreaking. It was hard enough last year, but now you know that you have a way to prevent all this.”

An average of 378, 17 or under children were hospitalized per day, due to COVID just from December 22-28. This was a 66% increase from the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though the number is still relatively very low compared to all COVID cases reported, the concern of higher infection, severe symptoms still remains. 

Though a large reason behind the low vaccination rate among children is due to the shorter time span since the approval. Nonetheless, it does not make the current COVID situation among children any less heartbreaking to witness. Dr. Offit reported the devastating reality within the hospitals right now saying, “They’re struggling to breathe, coughing, coughing, coughing. A handful were sent to the ICU to be sedated. We put the attachment down their throat that’s attached to a ventilator, and the parents are crying.”

Health officials and medical workers are urging parents and caregivers to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible so they can be protected from the worst.