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Children in need of ICU care after being hospitalized for COVID-19 on the rise

Dr. Jim Versalovic with Texas Children's Hospital said about 10 percent of the kids and teens diagnosed with COVID-19 need to be hospitalized.

HOUSTON — New data from the CDC show the number of children hospitalized in the ICU because of the virus is on the rise.

Dr. Jim Versalovic serves as interim pediatrician-in-chief and pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital.

“The hospitalization rates are significantly greater than we’ve seen for seasonal influenza or the flu," Dr. Versalovic said.

According to a study published on JAMA, the CDC reports more than 10 percent of the kids and teens diagnosed with COVID-19 need to be hospitalized and a third of that percentage needing ICU. 

"Thirty-five to 40 percent of children and adolescents that we’ve hospitalized have required critical care,” Dr. Versalovic said.

Dr. Versalovic said numbers at Texas Children’s align with the latest CDC data that show a third of kids 12 to 17 years old who required hospitalization end up in the ICU.

Of those cases, 5 percent needed to be put on ventilators.

“We see no reason to roll the dice with the health of a child or an adolescent,” Dr. Versalovic said. “No reason to gamble, and the best way to just hold onto the dice and not gamble is to get the vaccine as soon as possible.”

He said last month, Texas Children’s was able to turn a corner on increased hospitalizations because of their efforts to vaccinate eligible children.

“We have now provided vaccines to more than 16,000 young adolescents. These are children 12 to 15 years of age just since May the 12th,” Dr. Versalovic said.

He said that number climbs when you include 16- and 17-year-old teens.

Dr. Versalovic said it’s important that anyone who is eligible to get the shot do so in order to stop the spread of the virus.