The high rate of child COVID-19 cases is in part because more adults are now vaccinated against the virus
Female doctor giving covid-19 vaccine to a boy
Adolescent getting COVID-19 vaccine
| Credit: Getty Images

Kids now account for more than a fifth of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as parents wait to see if children will be approved to get vaccinated against the virus.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children made up 22.4% of all new cases in the U.S. over the last week, a total of 71,649 out of 319,601 infections. That is a 4% increase in child COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks.

Kids also accounted for a small, but growing number of hospitalizations, making up 1.2 to 3.1 of reported hospitalizations for COVID-19.

The increasing share of child COVID-19 infections can be attributed to a few factors — as more adults get vaccinated against the virus, the number of cases in those age groups are decreasing. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control found that hospitalizations have gone down 94% in adults aged 65 and older, with most of that age group now vaccinated.

The rise in child COVID-19 cases can also be traced back to youth sports, which the CDC said was driving the virus' spread in most of the U.S. back in April.

"We're finding out that it's the team sports where kids are getting together, obviously many without masks, that are driving it — rather than in-the-classroom spread," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said April 6. "When you go back and take a look and try and track where these clusters of cases are coming from in the school, it's just that."

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Adolescents may soon be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — the Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize use of Pfizer's vaccine in kids aged 12 to 15 by next week after clinical trials showed that it is extremely effective in that age group. In March, Pfizer said that the vaccine was 100% effective in a clinical trial of 2,300 adolescents.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are also testing their vaccine on younger age groups, in kids between the ages of 6 months to 12 years old. In the hopes of vaccinating them by early next year.

As of May 3, more than 56% of American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 40.6% are now fully vaccinated against the virus, the CDC reports. New cases are also dropping significantly — daily infections are now below 50,000, a decrease of 26% over the last 14 days, according to The New York Times.

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