Teens Are Rarely Hospitalized With Covid, but Cases Can Be Severe

Adolescents were hospitalized with Covid three times as often as with flu, researchers reported. Nearly one-third wound up in I.C.U.s.

By Apoorva Mandavilli

Since the start of the pandemic, very few adolescents have become ill enough with Covid-19 to be hospitalized. But of those who did, about one-third were admitted to intensive care units, and 5 percent required ventilators, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday.

These findings underscore the importance of vaccinating children against the coronavirus, experts said. “Much of this suffering can be prevented,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the C.D.C. director, said in a statement. “Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic.”

The data also run counter to claims that influenza is more threatening to children than Covid-19, an argument that has been used to reopen schools and to question the value of coronavirus vaccines for children.

The number of hospitalizations related to Covid-19 among adolescents in the United States was about three times as high as hospitalizations linked to influenza over three recent flu seasons, the study found.

“There’s a very strong case to be made for preventing a disease that causes hospitalizations and deaths, not to mention contributing to community transmission,” said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chair of the committee on infectious diseases at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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