Across New York State, with only 16% of eligible children ages 5-11 and 64% ages 12-17 fully vaccinated, reports a state Department of Health warning– painting an urgent picture with hospitalization of children apparently climbing four-fold in the past few weeks. However, actual numbers are hard to come by and the State Department of Health avoids the concept of the risk-benefit analysis for child vaccination. Rather this stark message indicates the urgency of an emergency—with growing hospitalization primarily driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the New York State Department of Health emphasizes rapid, mass vaccination of much of the state’s pediatric population—at least all those age 5 to 17.

Titled “New York State Department of Health Issues Health Advisory Warning of An Increase in Pediatric Hospitalizations Associated with COVID-19” the state’s health department warns 1) of new concerning trends of pediatric hospitalization 2) urges parents and guardians to get all children five and above vaccinated and 3) reminds families that vaccination is the most advantageous protection along with boosters, masks, avoidance of crowds, and testing.

The Trends

The New York Department of Health reports that in the state’s (and nation’s) biggest city, New York City, they have identified a four-fold increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations for children 18 and under starting the week of Dec. 5. This warning results from data collected in the Health Electronic Response Data System (HERDS). The health agency shares the following:

Age Category HospitalizedVaccinatedUnvaccinated
5-110%100%
12-1725%75%

In New York children from ages 5 to 15 can receive the mRNA-based Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). This vaccine is fully approved for those 16 and up in age.Subscribe to the Trialsitenews “COVID-19” ChannelNo spam – we promise

The state reports by Dec. 24 27% of 5-11 year-olds received at least one vaccine dose with 16.1% fully vaccinated71.7% of 12 – 17-year-olds have received at least one vaccine dose and 64.1% are fully vaccinated. Adolescents 16 and older are now eligible and encouraged to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster dose. COVID-19 vaccination data by age is publicly available and updated daily. Hospitalization data is available at the State’s Hospitalization Tracker. Note that age is not prominently included.

What about Risk-Benefit Analysis?

The State Department of Health shares zero in the way of information for parents to consider any sort of risk-benefit analysis. This would help parents determine in a more scientific way the actual risks associated with COVID-19 hospitalization versus adverse events associated with the vaccine.

This means that the state doesn’t acknowledge any safety issues associated with the Pfizer vaccine. Or put another way, the state, for reasons of public health policy, emphasizes growth in pediatric hospitalization as a profoundly higher risk than any safety issues associated with the mRNA-based vaccine.

They encourage vaccination of this age group, even though risks have surfaced, such as myocarditis, especially prevalent among boys and young men. TrialSite points out that incidence of child hospitalization and death has been extremely low with SARS-CoV-2, except the numbers have grown with the Delta variant. Given Omicron’s transmissibility the numbers of infections and hospitalization at least in New York grows. While all studies indicate Omicron to be a milder mutant, that cannot be assumed to be the case ongoing.

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