The last full week of September brought a 4th straight week of declines in the number of new COVID-19 cases reported among children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
The new-case total of 39,200 for the week of Sept. 23-29 was down by almost 28% from the previous week, with the month of September bringing a decline of about 57% in reported cases for the 45 states and territories that are still releasing pediatric COVID data on their health department websites, the AAP and CHA said in their joint weekly report.
New cases dropped in all four regions after the Northeast and West had seen increases the previous week, and the distribution of cases for the latest week was fairly even, with the Midwest and Northeast right around 10,000, the South slightly over 10,000, and the West under 10,000 by about the same amount. At the state level, the largest increases – around 1.5% – over the last 2 weeks occurred in Kentucky and Nevada, the AAP/CHA data show.
The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in children was almost 14.8 million as of Sept. 29, with children representing 18.4% of all cases since the pandemic began, the AAP and CHA said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is able to use a uniform age range of 0-17 years, puts total cases at 15.2 million and the proportion of child cases at 17.4%. Total deaths in children from COVID as of Oct. 3 were 1,745, the CDC reported.
New vaccinations, in the meantime, are being added in numbers only slightly higher than new cases. Initial COVID vaccinations for the week of Sept. 22-28 were about 44,000 for children under 5 years of age (down from 51,000 the week before), 24,000 for children aged 5-11 years (down from 28,000), and 17,000 for those aged 12-17 (down from 18,000), the AAP said in its weekly vaccination report.
To look at it another way, the total proportion of children under 5 years of age who had received at least one dose of COVID vaccine as of Sept. 28 was 6.5%, compared with 6.4% on Sept. 21, while the corresponding rates for children aged 5-11 and 12-17 were unchanged at 38.5% and 70.9%. The 12- to 17-year-olds, in fact, have been stuck at 70.9% since Sept. 13, according to data from the CDC.
In a recent study published in Vaccine, investigators attributed the discrepancies between age groups at least partly to the acceptance of misinformation about vaccine safety in general and the COVID-19 vaccines in particular.
“All of the misconceptions we studied focused in one way or another on the safety of vaccination, and that explains why people’s misbeliefs about vaccinating kids are so highly related to their concerns about vaccines in general. Unfortunately, those concerns weigh even more heavily when adults consider vaccinating children,” lead author Dan Romer, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, said in a written statement.
This story originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.