Respiratory therapist Adel Al Joaid treats Melissa Wartman, a COVID-19 patient, in the intensive care unit at Rush University Medial Center on January 31, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson | Getty Images
Infants too young to be vaccinated were hospitalized with Covid-19 more often than any other age group other than the elderly during the omicron BA.5 wave over the summer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
The CDC, in a report released Thursday, found that hospitalizations in infants under six months old increased elevenfold from April to July of this year, when omicron BA.2 and then BA.5 were the dominant variants. in circulation.
The average weekly hospitalization rate for young infants during this period was about 13.7 per 100,000. This was about the same as patients aged 65 to 74 at 13.8 per 100,000. It was more common than all other children and adults under the age of 65, according to the CDC report.
Fortunately, increased hospitalizations in young infants have not been associated with increased severity. In fact, the length of hospital stay and the proportion of admissions requiring intensive care were actually lower during omicron than when the delta variant was dominant, according to the report.
The spike in hospitalizations among young infants was due to high community transmission of the virus during omicron, according to the CDC. The threshold for admission of young infants is also much lower than that of older children. According to the report, adolescents and adults under the age of 65 also had more immunity due to vaccination, infection or both, which likely lowered their hospitalization rates.
The report’s authors said the high hospitalization rate underscores the importance of pregnant women staying up to date on their Covid vaccines, including receiving the new booster which targets omicron BA.5. Infants under six months are the only age group in the United States ineligible for injections.
Two doses of Covid vaccine given to the mother during pregnancy are about 52% effective in preventing hospitalization in infants younger than six months, according to the CDC. This is probably due to the fact that the protective antibodies of the mother induced by the vaccination are transferred to the fetus during pregnancy.
The CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend the Covid vaccination for women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.
According to the report, young infants born during the omicron BA.5 dominant period may have had less protection against the disease because many mothers received their vaccines before pregnancy and immunity waned as more time had passed since their last dose. Moreover, BA.5 and other emerging variants are simply more adept at evading the protection afforded by vaccines.