With the most controlled situation among older adults, thanks to vaccination, the population that has been most exposed to the virus are adolescents. However, most of them have not yet been vaccinated and have largely returned to a "normal" social life.
Little by little, the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to lag in the United States, largely thanks to the vaccination campaign. As most of the adults in the country get vaccinated, fewer are getting seriously ill, and therefore fewer are hospitalized. But the downward trend is not necessarily maintained in all age groups. Adolescents are the ones that now concern part of the medical community because they are the ones who are ending up in hospitals.
From the beginning of the pandemic, it was clear that young people got less sick when they contracted the COVID-19 virus. This is because adolescents, while not a risk group, generally develop more severe symptoms than young children. Now that older adults are not getting so sick any more, this has become clearer.
COVID-19-related hospitalizations in youth ages 12-17 have been inconsistent across the country. According to data provided by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control, according to its acronym in English), last March, the number of adolescent hospitalizations had decreased but increased again in April. The CDC analyzed data from 99 counties in 14 states across the country and found that, like older adults, teens who are not vaccinated are at higher risk of being hospitalized if they contract the virus.
The FDA (Federal Food and Drug Administration) authorized using the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNtech for ages 12 and older a month ago. However, this group has been vaccinated much less than adults over 18 years of age so far, which would explain the increase in hospitalizations seen in April.
The state of Florida ranks fourth in the nation in the number of teens hospitalized for COVID-19. Since March 2020, when the pandemic broke out, the Holtz Children's Hospital - which runs under the Jackson Memorial Health System, the largest public hospital in South Florida - has admitted 783 patients under 18 with COVID-19. Five hundred seventy-four were between newborns to 11 years old, and 209 were between 12 and 18 years old. In the same period, the Joe DiMaggio hospital - the main one in Broward County - hospitalized 174 minors with coronavirus.
The figures are not worrying, but it is clear that minors continue to suffer from the pandemic, unlike what happens with other groups. Experts directly link it to the low vaccination in this group.
In Florida, only 22% of residents ages 12-19 have been vaccinated. Among them, the group that was vaccinated the most is those between 18 and 19 years old, probably because they have no restrictions on the type of vaccines they can receive ( Pfizer, J&J, and Moderna have been authorized for people over 18 years of age since December ), and also because they can do it alone, without the need to go with a parent or legal guardian, as happens with those between 12 and 17 years old.
The authorities believe that the fact that older adults are vaccinated, social restrictions have been eliminated, and new variants of the virus are circulating is what has caused adolescents to be the most contagious at this time.
In Florida, the youngest are being encouraged to get vaccinated, setting up temporary vaccination clinics in schools.