A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underscores the importance of vaccinations for adolescents aged 12 to 17, agency director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday.
The study released Friday shows that hospital rates for adolescents rose in mid-to-late April, while hospitalization rates for people aged 65 and older — the group with the highest vaccination coverage — fell during that same timespan.
The Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in adolescents in May. The vaccine has been proven to reduce the rates of severe cases of COVID-19 across age groups.
"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. "Much of this suffering can be prevented."
The report states that hospitalization rates for adolescents peaked in January at about 2 per 100,000 before falling in March. But it's the rise in April that has health officials concerned.
While the hospital rates for adolescents remained lower than the hospital rates for adults, it was higher than that of young children. Researchers suspect the increase could be attributed to the rise of more contagious variants of the virus.
According to the study, 204 adolescents were hospitalized between Jan. 1 and March 31. Nearly a third were admitted to intensive care, and about 5% required the use of a ventilator.
"Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic," Walensky said in a statement Friday. "I continue to see promising signs in CDC data that we are nearing the end of this pandemic in this country; however, we all have to do our part and get vaccinated to cross the finish line."