The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reported on Friday that hospitalizations of children in Alabama due to COVID-19 are at a record high, and immediate measures need to be taken to reduce COVID-19 in the pediatric population.

On Jan. 13, a total of 2,091 patients were admitted to Alabama hospitals with confirmed COVID-19. Some 71 of these were pediatric patients. Of these patients, there were three pediatric patients in the intensive care unit, including one on a ventilator. There were also 41 pregnant women admitted, with one in the intensive care unit and one on a ventilator.

According to the latest school dashboard, there were 16,035 cases of COVID-19 in Alabama schools this week with all but four of the 143 districts reporting. There were 2,940 cases in school children reported last week.

ADPH reports that on Jan. 13 there were 9,266 total COVID-19 cases reported in Alabama children and adolescents. The breakdown of cases by age is as follows:

“In the crisis of higher virus transmission with the Omicron variant, immediate measures are critical,” ADPH District Medical Officer Dr. Wes Stubblefield said. “School-wide masking is at the top of the list of preventive steps that need to be implemented."

ADPH said 10.5% of children in the 5- to 11-year-old age group have been vaccinated. For ages 12 to 17, 35.5% have been vaccinated.

Dr. Katrina Skinner is the President of the Alabama Chapter of the AAP.

“The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is extremely contagious and fast-spreading,” Skinner said. “Pediatric hospitalizations are at record high numbers, and we continue to see children with serious complications of COVID-19 infections such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). Parents should take the current COVID-19 outbreak seriously as it poses a very real threat to the health and well-being of their children."

Some 45,986 Alabamians were diagnosed with the coronavirus this week. Eight Alabamians have died of COVID-19 this month and 16,641 have died to this point in the pandemic.

The Alabama Legislature has passed legislation barring schools from requiring that students receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

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