Claim: Many young people are choosing to not get vaccinated because they believe they will not get sick from COVID-19.
Rating: This claim is MOSTLY FALSE. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and from the American Academy of Pediatrics show that COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and young adults have been steadily rising over the summer, because of the Delta variant. The majority of new hospitalizations are unvaccinated individuals. Medical professionals are encouraging young people to get vaccinated, so they do not become severely sick from COVID-19 and spread it to vulnerable populations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young people have the lowest vaccination rates in comparison to other adult age groups. For instance, as of Sept. 2, only 48.1% of young adults ages 18 to 24 are fully vaccinated, the lowest among the adult age groups (by comparison, 83.8% of adults age 65 to 74 are fully vaccinated). The numbers are even lower for teenagers. Only 37.2% of teenagers ages 12 to 15 years old are fully vaccinated.
According to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci, the reason young people are hesitant to be vaccinated is because “there is a misperception that young people will never have any problem with COVID-19,” he said in a YouTube video. “It’s true that statistically, it’s less likely for a young person to get a severe outcome from COVID-19, but it isn’t zero. And there are plenty of young people right now, as this new Delta variant [is] infecting people more and more, we’re seeing a lot more young people get infected and even get hospitalized.”
The Delta Variant Is Affecting More Young People
What Fauci is saying is true. The Delta variant now makes up a majority of cases in the U.S. and is almost twice as infectious as the original COVID-19 virus.
According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, children under the age of 18 account for 14.8% of all COVID-19 infections. COVID-19 cases in children under 18 have increased five-fold over the summer, “rising from about 38,000 cases the week ending July 22nd to nearly 204,000 the past week [Aug 26].”
A total of 4.8 million children have tested positive for COVID-19.
Young People Are Among the Hospitalized and Those with Long COVID.
Even if they do not get hospitalized or die, young people under 18 infected with COVID-19 can experience lingering symptoms for months after, such as “fatigue, headaches, brain fog, memory and concentration difficulties, sleep disturbances, ongoing change in smell and taste,” said Dr. Molly Wilson-Murphy, a neuroinfectious diseases specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, to the New York Times. Several studies estimate that 11% to 15% of young people infected with COVID-19 experience lingering symptoms after, also called long COVID.
Hospitalizations among young people have also been steadily trending upwards. According to the CDC, people ages 18 to 49 now make up 35% of new COVID hospitalizations, the largest age group to be hospitalized. A majority of those hospitalized from COVID-19 are unvaccinated so it is another reason why being vaccinated is important, say a number of medical professionals.
“What’s happening now is you’re seeing a more aggressive Delta variant that is hitting some of these younger people harder than the original variant was. And as a result, those end up in the hospital,” Dr. Timothy Korber, who works at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital in California, told the Los Angeles Times. “The vast majority of the cases that we are admitting to the hospital are unvaccinated, younger.”
Dr. Clayton Chau, the health officer for Orange County, also told the Los Angeles Times that most of the new COVID-19 hospitalizations are people in their 30s and 40s.
Young People Can Spread the Virus to Others
Even if unvaccinated people do not become sick with COVID-19, they can still transmit the virus to other people, especially to children under the age of 12 who cannot be vaccinated. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that COVID-19 cases have been rising in children under the age of 18, which can be attributed to “community transmission,” especially because of the Delta variant.
And though proportionally, children and young people do make up a small percentage of deaths from COVID-19, those deaths are all preventable. “It is unnecessary deaths,” said Dr. Chau to the Los Angeles Times. “Yes, the number is nothing compared to the last surge in wintertime, but people don’t have to die if they just get the vaccine.”
On Aug. 29, the Children’s Hospital Association, which represents over 220 children’s hospitals nationally, took out an ad in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. It said, “we call on leaders in the public and private sectors and the American public to stand with us to help protect our children. All eligible populations should be vaccinated. Everyone should mask responsibility, particularly during school and while attending large gatherings. All should adhere to proven safe practices of social distancing and hand washing. Together, we can keep our children safer.”
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Viet Fact Check has partnered with a number of community and health organizations to educate the Vietnamese-American community on the COVID-19 vaccine. The project is supported by: Progressive Vietnamese American Organization (PIVOT), Asian Health Services (AHS), the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Union of North American Vietnamese American Students (UNAVSA), Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Asian American Research Center on Health (ARCH) and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO).
This article is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $3,300,000 with 40% funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.