"Until they are fully vaccinated, adolescents should continue to wear masks and take precautions," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said after a new study showed an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations among teens

By Nicholas Rice
June 04, 2021 03:32 PM
A nurse gives Sherri Trimble, 15, a shot of the vaccine at a vaccination clinic at Health First Medical Centre. On May 12, 2021
Credit: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky is calling on parents to vaccinate their teens against COVID-19.

On Friday, Walensky said that she is troubled by the findings of a new study that showed increased rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations among those aged 12 to 17 years old.

According to the study, adolescent hospitalization rates from COVID peaked at 2.1 per 100,000 in early January 2021, declined to 0.6 in mid-March, and rose to 1.3 in April.

Of the 204 teens documented who were hospitalized between Jan. 1 and March 31, more than 30% required admission to the intensive care unit, and 5% needed to be put on a medical ventilation system. Of those teens who were hospitalized, more than 70% had at least one underlying medical condition, the most common of which was obesity, followed behind by chronic lung disease — including asthma — and neurologic disorders, the study said.

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A group of teenagers serving as 'Covid-19 Student Ambassadors' joined Governor Gretchen Whitmer to receive a dose of the Pfizer Covid vaccine at Ford Field during an event to promote and encourage Michigan residents to go and get their vaccines on April 6, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan
Credit: Matthew Hatcher/Getty

"I am deeply concerned by the numbers of hospitalized adolescents and saddened to see the number of adolescents who required treatment in intensive care units or mechanical ventilation," Walensky said in a statement. "Much of this suffering can be prevented."

"Until they are fully vaccinated, adolescents should continue to wear masks and take precautions when around others who are not vaccinated to protect themselves, and their family, friends, and community," she continued. "I ask parents, relatives and close friends to join me and talk with teens about the importance of these prevention strategies and to encourage them to get vaccinated."

Detailing that getting vaccinated is "our way out of this pandemic," Walensky noted, "I continue to see promising signs in CDC data that we are nearing the end of this pandemic in this country."

"However," she added, "We all have to do our part and get vaccinated to cross the finish line."

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The new study and Walensky's statements come after Moderna's vaccine against COVID-19 was found to be safe and highly effective in children ages 12 to 17 last month.

In late May, the company announced its findings from a clinical trial, called TeenCOVE, that involved more than 3,700 kids who either received the vaccine or a placebo.

Per the study, there were four cases of COVID-19 among the placebo group after two doses were administered, compared with none in the vaccine group — meaning the vaccine was 100 percent effective.

Moderna previously announced plans to send those findings to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in early June, per a company statement.

The news from Moderna came shortly after the FDA said that adolescents aged 12 to 15 are now approved to get Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine as well, after a "rigorous and thorough" evaluation to ensure its safety.