SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is painting a clearer picture of hospitalizations among 5-11-year-olds during the omicron surge at the start of 2022. The study revealed that unvaccinated 5-11-year-olds were twice as likely to end up in the hospital with COVID-19 as those who were vaccinated. 

“I think it really highlights that vaccination remains an important tool that parents have to protect their children,” Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Jana Shaw said. 

The report stated that 30% of hospitalized children had no underlying health conditions and one in five kids were admitted into an intensive care unit.

“There’s this perception that COVID is not a big deal in children and there are concerns about vaccine safety that are unfortunately founded in myths, rumors, misinformation. There’s this perception that vaccines are not needed for children and therefore children are not getting vaccinated.”

Dr. Jana Shaw, Upstate’s Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist

Dr. Shaw called the vaccination rate for this age group ‘very concerning’ as just 37.5% of 5-11-year-olds are fully vaccinated in Onondaga County, according to state data. 

“It’s certainly not sufficient you know it is concerning because needlessly children end up in the hospital with these acute medical problems and serious problems and as I mentioned earlier on top of it there’s going to be long term problems those children will experience that were not even accounted for in this study,” Dr. Shaw said. 

The report also showed that Non-Hispanic Black children represented the largest unvaccinated group and children with diabetes and obesity were more likely to experience severe COVID-19. 

Dr. Shaw believes the way to increase vaccination rates in our community starts with proper messaging to parents. 

“So helping parents understand that COVID is serious, it’s unpredictable and vaccination is here, it’s free, and it’s safe for their children is really important,”

Dr. Jana Shaw, Upstate’s Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist

Dr. Shaw said as BA.2 is now the dominant strain in our community not many children are ending up in the hospital. However, now that masks are off in many public settings she is seeing a spike in other respiratory illnesses like the flu, RSV, and the common cold.