The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging parents to get their teenagers vaccinated against COVID-19 after an alarming spike in hospitalizations among young coronavirus patients.
About 24% of kids ages 12 to 17 have received at least one dose. Before most were eligible for the vaccine, about one-third of teens who were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 wound up in the intensive care unit, according to the CDC. Nearly 5% of those cases were put on respirators. None of the patients died.
CDC Director Rochelle Walenksy said she is "deeply concerned by the numbers of hospitalized adolescents."
"Much of this suffering can be prevented," she said, touting the vaccine and other safety precautions.
Dr. Paul Offit, of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, says the U.S. has to do better in vaccinating children. But one big obstacle is convincing some parents the vaccine is safe long-term, especially for girls amid misinformation that it could affect fertility.
"Unfortunately, misinformation plays a big role in this," Offit said. "For example, the notion that vaccines cause infertility, there are many women of childbearing age who are saying, 'Look, not this vaccine is not for me. I don't want it to affect my ability to have babies.' It's a false notion. Once you've raised that question, once you've scared people, it's hard to unscare them."
In May, the Food & Drug Administration grantedfor the Pfizer vaccine in kids ages 12 to 15. Moderna has said that its vaccine is in kids as young as 12. The company plans to seek approval for use in teens early this month.