Child COVID Cases Are Up 32% in the Last 2 Weeks as Infections Spike Nationwide

Despite making up 22% of the population, kids now account for 25% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

sick child
A sick child. Photo: getty

Pediatric cases of COVID-19 are soaring ahead of the holidays with infections up 32% in the last two weeks, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

During the week ending on Nov. 18, nearly 142,000 kids tested positive for COVID-19, marking the 15th week in a row that pediatric cases — meaning infections in Americans 18 or younger — were above 100,000.

And child COVID-19 cases are disproportionately high — though children make up just 22% of the U.S. population, they now account for 25% all of infections nationwide.

Though Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is now available for kids age 5 to 11, it hasn't been authorized long enough to stem the spike in cases. Of the 28 million kids in that age group nationwide, the White House estimated on Nov. 10 — eight days after it was authorized for use — that around 1 million have gotten their first dose of Pfizer's vaccine. Additionally, like the adult version, recipients do not reach full vaccination until two weeks after their second dose.

The increase in pediatric cases comes as COVID-19 cases begin to rise again nationwide. After the late summer spike due to the delta variant and low vaccination rates, cases had started to decline in October, but as the weather turns colder and people head indoors again, Midwest, northeast and southwest states are all seeing high transmission rates.

The seven-day average of new cases is up by 18%, Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday, The Washington Post reported. And with COVID-19 vaccine booster shots newly approved for all Americans, she urged people to get them as soon as possible.

"Heading into the winter months, when respiratory viruses are more likely to spread, and with plans for increased holiday season travel and gatherings, boosting people's overall protection against COVID-19 disease and death was important to do now," Walensky said.

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Walensky, along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said that the daily deaths are also still high, hovering at above 1,000 for months, because some Americans are still holding out on vaccination.

"Most tragic are the vaccine-preventable deaths we are still seeing from this disease," Walensky said. "Even in our updated data, unvaccinated people are at 14 times greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than people who are vaccinated."

A new CDC study, published Monday, found that unvaccinated adults are 14 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those who were vaccinated, and six times more likely to test positive.

And though children have a low risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19, it's still possible, and they can transmit the virus to others. Experts are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated now that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is approved for those age 5 to 11.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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