Covid hospitalisations spike among children too young for vaccination in Aylesbury's region

Recent data suggests, children under six are now four times more likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid than school-aged kids

By James Lowson
Monday, 10th January 2022, 1:18 pm

Figures show a spike in Covid cases leading to hospitalisations for children aged under six in Aylesbury' s region.

Official data accurate up to January 4, shows that in the South East region case numbers among children too young for vaccination rose by 65%.

Between December 28 and January 4, 43 further children under the age of six needed hospital care after testing positive for Covid.

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Hospital admissions increased by over 65% in the region

This represents a record number of children within that age range to be taken to hospital within a seven-day period.

The week before, 26 children between the age of 0-5 were taken to hospital after testing positive.

Currently the admission rate for these youngsters who aren't currently eligible for a vaccination protecting against Covid is 11.4 per 100,000 children.

Nationally, figures are similar to those confirmed in the South East, data accurate up to January 3, shows a 48.1% increase in cases among this age group in England.

In total, 560 children under the age of six were admitted to hospital in England after testing positive for Covid.

The national admission rate stands at 14.5 admissions for every 100,000 children aged under six, a rate four times higher than for children aged six to 17.

The figures have prompted the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) to call on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to reevaluate its position on jabs for young children, amid uncertainties about the Omicron variant and its risk to youngsters.

The society was responding to analysis by NationalWorld showing children aged under six are now four times more likely than school-aged children to be admitted to hospital with Covid, as a proportion of the population.

Even with the spike, the 0-5 infection rate remains below the national average for adults, which stands at 25.2 admissions per 100,000.

The current admission rate for people aged over 85 in England is currently 175.8 per 100,000.

Dr Jyotsna Vohra, RSPH director of policy and public affairs, said: “While uncertainties remain about the Omicron variant, and the risk it poses to young children, the rise in hospital admissions in children under 11 years presents a growing concern.

"The JCVI has previously advised against ​vaccinating children under 12, however in light of rising hospitalisations and [the fact that] that the use of Covid-19 vaccines in young children has been approved in other countries, RSPH urge the JCVI to evaluate the growing evidence base and its implications on current guidance."

In the latest technical briefing on the Omicron variant, the UK Health Security Agency noted preliminary analysis estimates children aged five to 17 faced a much lower risk of hospitalisation than with Delta.

Speaking of lower risks posed by Omicron to the population at large, it added: “It is important to highlight that these lower risks do not necessarily imply reduced hospital burden over the current epidemic wave, given the higher growth rate and immune evasion observed with Omicron.”

No mention was made of children aged under five.

NationalWorld analysis of Covid cases among children of a similar age does not show a clear correlation between the number of positive cases and the rise in admissions.

Covid case data in England is broken down by children aged 0 to four and five to nine, so comparisons with hospitalisation age groups are imperfect.

There is usually a lag of at least a week between a person testing positive for Covid and then requiring hospitalisation, while the virus takes hold.

Hospital admissions among under sixes began a sustained and rapid period of increase from 24 December.

But cases among children aged five to nine had been on a general downward trend since 5 December, following a spike in November. Among children aged 0 to four cases had been increasing, but at a much steadier pace than the recent rise in hospitalisations.

Current government guidance states children under five – unlike older children – do not need to take part in rapid daily testing if they are a close contact of someone with Covid. They are still advised to take PCRs if a positive case is in their household or if they have symptoms.

The UK Health Security Agency was approached for comment. It said the JCVI “keeps the evidence under review”.