December 4, 2022

Researchers explore Covid: Is It Increasing the Number of Kids Hospitals?

Researchers are still not sure if Covid is making children sicker or just increasing the number of kids hospitalized. Covid is a vaccine that was released last year to help prevent hospitalizations for pneumonia, influenza and other respiratory infections in young children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that there has been an increase in the number of kids under six years old hospitalized with Covid since its release. This could be because more parents are seeking medical attention when their child gets sick rather than waiting it out at home like they used to do. But this doesn’t account for all cases—there have also been reports of increased rates among toddlers who weren’t vaccinated against Covid before it became available on the market.

According to Dr. Dermot O’Gorman, director of the Vaccine Study Center at Stony Brook Hospital in New York, this could be because these kids are now vaccinated with Covid at an earlier age than they were before. “We’re vaccinating younger and younger children against these respiratory infections with Covid,” he said. “The fact is that these vaccines are now being given to children at younger ages when they are more likely to be severely ill if they do get sick with respiratory viruses. The vaccine might be protecting against pneumonia and other severe diseases but increasing rates of hospitalizations for milder disease.”

The age of vaccination for Covid has been reduced from six months to four and a half years old (17 or 18 months) after CDC researchers found that younger children were less likely to contract pneumonia or influenza. That’s when the number of hospitalizations began to rise. Dr. O’Gorman said it is possible this could be because younger children may catch respiratory infections more easily. “The earlier age of vaccination with Covid has not been studied,” he said. “It could be that the vaccine is better at protecting older children but not as effective in younger kids.”

I’m sure he means to say they haven’t been studied for this purpose, but a flaw in the research is a flaw nonetheless. The first thing I’d do if I were a parent would be to have my kids vaccinated at the earliest age possible, so as not to miss out on anything. However, it can always be worse. Earlier vaccination against Covid doesn’t seem like that much of a difference to me, not enough for the CDC to complain about.

Dr. O’Gorman said it is possible that Covid also boosts children’s immunity against respiratory infections and makes them less likely to spread infection or suffer complications if they do get infected. “The vaccine might be conferring some protection that is more difficult to measure,” he said. “It could be making them better able to fight respiratory infections.”

I bet it does more than just make them fight respiratory infections more effectively—it makes them immune to the little buggers altogether. If I were a parent, I would definitely prefer to have my kids be immune rather than vulnerable. In fact, I’d do anything for them not to catch the damn disease as well as boosting their immunity if given a choice.

Dr O’Gorman said parents need to weigh up how much they value this type of protection against hospitalizations and other more severe complications. “For parents, the decision is whether it’s worth getting their child vaccinated against infections that may not be severe in order to cut down on hospitalization for milder illness. There are no easy answers here, but many experts recommend vaccinating children against these respiratory infections at an earlier age than they were before.”

Good. I’m glad that Dr. O’Gorman and the powers-that-be would give parents a choice in this matter, even though it seems to be an easy one to me. Of course, no parent should ever have to choose between protecting their baby from disease or putting them at greater risk for death or less severe disease. But I’m not a parent so maybe my view is skewed on this one.

Maybe more studies will be done on Covid and its effects on children at an earlier age, but don’t hold your breath. The powers-that-be have already decided that the benefits outweigh the risks—and they haven’t been shy to push it on us. People have a right to knowledge, and this is definitely one of those cases where someone should step up with the facts—maybe CDC researchers as well as those from other countries who conduct similar research.