Nearly all teenagers who had to be admitted to the ICU for COVID-19 treatment were unvaccinated, according to a new study.
The Pfizer vaccine prevented 98 percent of intensive care visits and 94 percent of COVID-related hospitalizations in teenagers, the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found.
The peer-reviewed analysis, which is backed by the Centers for Disease Control and pediatric hospitals, included data from 1,222 hospitalized teens — aged 12 to 18 years.
Of the teens included in the study, 445 were hospitalized for COVID-19 and 777 were admitted for other reasons between July 1 and October 25 last year.
In total, 40 percent — or 180 patients — were admitted to the ICU and 127 of them (29 percent) were put on life support in 31 hospitals across 23 states.
Only two patients who were admitted to the ICU had been fully vaccinated, according to the study.
All seven deaths recorded in the study occurred in patients that were unvaccinated.
“Nearly all hospitalizations and deaths in this population could have been prevented by vaccination,” Kathryn Edwards, a Vanderbilt University Medical Center pediatrics professor involved in the study, said.
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Only 299 of the hospitalized teens included in the study were fully vaccinated against the virus — a figure Edwards described as “distressing” given the “uniform eligibility and widespread vaccine access.”
About 36 percent of children in the US aged between 12 and 17 years are currently unvaccinated against COVID-19, the latest CDC data shows.
“Although these rates have increased somewhat since the data in this study were compiled, as of December 1, 2021, only 60 percent of US adolescents had received a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and only 50 percent had been fully vaccinated,” Edwards said.
Public health officials in the US have been encouraging children as young as five to get the vaccine.
Nearly three-quarters of the teens involved in the study had underlying medical conditions, including obesity, and 70 percent were attending in-person school.
The hospitals included in the study are all based in cities and more than half of the teens admitted with COVID hailed from southern states.