Children and underage teens made up nearly 20% of Philadelphia’s recent coronavirus infections, according to data shared with NBC10 by the city’s health department.
In the month of August, 1,593 youths under 18 tested positive for the virus – comprising 18.2% of the city’s 8,751 total infections that month, Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesman James Garrow said in response to a series of NBC10 questions regarding pediatric COVID-19 cases.
Because of the way data is handled between hospitals, the state and the city, exact figures regarding how many children are currently hospitalized with the virus are not immediately available, Garrow said. Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, however, confirmed during her weekly press briefing on the virus that there are at least some minors receiving hospital care after being infected with COVID-19.
“This is less likely to cause severe disease in kids, but it does. There are children in Philadelphia hospitals right now because of COVID,” Bettigole said.
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Currently, COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are available only to people aged 12 and up.
Of the total city infections recorded in August, 1,078 – or 12.3% – were among kids ineligible to get vaccinated because they were too young, the data shared with NBC10 shows. Of the 515 12 to 17-year-olds who were infected, 492 – 95.5% – were not fully vaccinated.
There have been infections within Philadelphia schools since the return to in-person classes at the end of last month. However, most school-related cases have stemmed from infection outside the classroom, Bettigole noted, stressing the importance of vaccines in keeping not just individuals safe but also those around them safe.
“By getting fully vaccinated, you’re not only lowering your chances of having severe COVID, but you’re also lowering the risk to everyone who is around you. Being vaccinated is the best way to protect your loved ones, including and especially children who can’t get vaccinated yet,” Bettigole said.
Those looking to get immunized can find a nearby vaccine provider by using this tool.