CDC director urges parents to vaccinate adolescents

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky urged parents to vaccinate adolescents and teenagers against the coronavirus Friday, adding that even though the COVID-19 risk is low, it still can be severe for this age group.

In a statement accompanying a study showing increased rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations among adolescents 12–17 years old, Walensky said she was concerned by the findings.

“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.

According to the study, COVID-19–associated hospitalization rates among adolescents increased during a recent surge in cases earlier this spring. Nearly one-third of the 204 adolescents hospitalized between Jan. 1 and March 31 required ICU admission.

“Much of this suffering can be prevented,” Walensky said.

Even though a coronavirus vaccine was not authorized for use in adolescents until last month, Walensky urged “parents, relatives and close friends to join me and talk with teens about the importance of these prevention strategies and to encourage them to get vaccinated.”

More data: But some public health experts questioned why the CDC was publishing a study in June that relied on data from only March and April. Current numbers are available through the end of May, and the rates of hospitalizations have dropped much lower. The study was also very limited — only about 10 percent of the U.S. population across 14 states was surveyed.