Los Angeles - Ahead of the holiday season, new data reveals a significant increase in COVID-19 cases among children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), almost 6.8 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.
And between Nov. 11 and Nov. 18, nearly 142,000 child cases were added — an increase of about 32% from two weeks ago — making up 25.1% of all the cases reported that week, AAP reported.
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2-also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19-isolated from a patient in the U.S (Credit: IMAGE POINT FR - LPN/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The age distribution of reported COVID-19 cases was provided on the health department websites of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.
While child cases have declined since a peak of 252,000 the week of Sept. 2, AAP said cases among children "remain extremely high."
"For the 15th week in a row, child COVID-19 cases are above 100,000, and since the first week of September, there have been over 1.7 million additional child cases," the health organization continued.
AAP noted that severe illness due to COVID-19 currently remains uncommon among children, "However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects," AAP continued.
The new surge comes as the U.S. rolls out vaccines for children ages 5 to 11.
U.S. health officials gave the final sign-off to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot on Nov. 2, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as 5.
Last week, the White House said about 10% of eligible kids aged 5 to 11 had received a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine within first two weeks of its approval for their age group.
The AAP also announced it is acceptable for children to get the COVID-19 vaccine along with their routine childhood vaccinations, such as for the flu or chickenpox or measles.
"Given the importance of routine vaccination and the need for rapid uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, the AAP supports coadministration of routine childhood and adolescent immunizations with COVID-19 vaccines (or vaccination in the days before or after) for children and adolescents who are behind on or due for immunizations and/or at increased risk from vaccine-preventable diseases," according to the AAP.
The Biden administration is also stepping up its efforts to promote kid vaccination.
First lady Jill Biden visited a Washington pediatric care facility along with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy earlier this month to tout vaccines for children.
"You’re the real heroes," Biden told newly vaccinated kids. "You have your superpower and now you’re protected against COVID."
As of Wednesday, more than 74.15 of Americans aged 5 and older have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 62.8% are fully vaccinated.