More Than 4,000 Children Hospitalized for COVID Nationwide as Omicron Variant Rapidly Spreads

Less than two weeks earlier, fewer than 2,000 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S.

Young mother with protective face mask holding son's hand while lying on the hospital bed
Child at a hospital. Photo: Getty Images

Hospitalizations among children in the United States from COVID-19 are soaring as the highly contagious omicron variant continues to spread.

As of Jan 5., more than 4,000 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States, according to data analyzed by The Washington Post. That figure includes confirmed as well as suspected COVID-19 pediatric cases.

In comparison, on Christmas less than two weeks prior, fewer than 2,000 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 nationwide.

The surge in pediatric hospitalizations comes as the highly contagious omicron variant continues spreading rapidly. Among all Americans, cases are soaring past previous records with more than 700,000 new infections reported each of the last three days, and 115,174 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

As part of the battle against the ongoing spread, the Centers for Disease Control updated its recommendation for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine booster to include children 12-17 years of age.

"It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease. Today, I endorsed ACIP's vote to expand eligibility and strengthen our recommendations for booster doses," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.

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"We now recommend that all adolescents aged 12-17 years should receive a booster shot 5 months after their primary series. This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. I encourage all parents to keep their children up to date with CDC's COVID-19 vaccine recommendations."

On Monday, the United States reported its single highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic nearly two years ago with 1,018,935 new infections. And the case numbers may be higher with many people are taking at-home tests and not necessarily reporting positive cases to public health departments.

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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