Over a quarter of new coronavirus cases in Colorado at the end of last month occurred in kids and teens through age 19. The 0-19 age bracket accounted for more cases than the 40-59 group, but it was the 20-39 bracket that saw the majority of cases 38.09%.
The 26.36% of new cases that occurred in the 0-19 population is the greatest amount seen since September 2020, when the bracket accounted for 26.92% of new cases. The trend of new cases in younger age groups is not unlike those seen in other parts of the country as greater numbers of older age brackets become fully vaccinated.
The FDA is expected to issue a decision in the coming days on Pfizer’s request to expand the current emergency use authorization granted to its COVID-19 vaccine to allow for teens ages 12 to 15. Currently, the FDA EUA allows for the two-dose jab to be administered to anyone 16 years of age and older. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for 16 and 17-year-olds, as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson only received approval for those 18 and up.
“We already have a vaccine clinic being set up for ages 16-21 next weekend,” Dr. Reginald Washington, chief medical officer at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, told 9NEWS. “It’ll be a simple matter of extending that down to 12-21 at our hospital.”
Nationwide, there have been over 3.7 million cases of coronavirus reported in children, representing 13.8% of illnesses in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Sixteen states have reported over 100,000 cases in kids, although Colorado is not one of them. The state has seen at least 13 coronavirus-related deaths involving kids.
Experts, including CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said that emerging variants, as well as clusters tied to extracurricular youth sports, have contributed to the rise in cases among kids. The agency has faced increased criticism over its summer camp guidance that advocates for mask-wearing and social distancing among youth while outdoors despite low risk of transmission. She said Wednesday that if the FDA does move to authorize a vaccine for 12-15-year-olds, and the teens are vaccinated before attending summer camp, they could take off their masks while outdoors.
“What we’re really trying to avoid in this camp guidance is what we saw in outbreaks in camps last summer,” she said, during the White House COVID-19 briefing. “So if you have five 10-year-olds who are on a soccer field, all in front of the same soccer ball, we’re trying to make sure that there are not a lot of heavy breathing around a singular soccer ball with five kids around it at the same time.”
“But for spread-out activities, our outdoor mask guidance for unvaccinated people, small groups, allows for those kids to be unvaccinated,” she said. “And we – what we really are trying to do is ensure that all of these kids can have a really good camp experience and keep camps open without any outbreaks.”