Study Finds COVID Is More Dangerous Than The Seasonal Flu For Kids

COVID-19 is much more dangerous to children than the seasonal flu, according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open. While COVID-19 is still generally less severe in kids than in adults, researchers have found that the novel virus poses a greater risk to children than previously thought (via HealthDay News). After analyzing health data from 66 pediatric intensive care units in the U.S., researchers identified 1,959 pediatric patients hospitalized with COVID-19 within the first 15 months of the pandemic and 1,561 patients with the seasonal flu between April 2018 and March 2020.

The study's findings revealed that there were nearly twice as many children hospitalized with COVID-19 per quarter during the initial 15 months of the pandemic than pediatric flu admissions in the two-year period before the pandemic. According to the study's lead author Dr. Steven Shein, the chief of pediatric critical care medicine at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, children with COVID-19 "experienced longer stays and required more invasive treatments like mechanical ventilation than children admitted with the flu." Researchers also found that pediatric patients with COVID-19 had a greater risk of death than pediatric patients with the flu. However, death rates between the two groups were about the same.

Vaccines can reduce the risk of severe illness

Although children still typically experience fewer and milder symptoms from COVID-19 than adults and are generally less likely to end up in the hospital, children with underlying medical conditions are at an increased risk of severe illness and hospitalization from the virus. In fact, the majority of children who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. have had chronic illnesses and underlying conditions (via Healthline). Fortunately, however, vaccines can help reduce this risk and protect children against both the flu and COVID-19.

That's why health experts recommend getting your kids vaccinated as soon as they're eligible. According to Dr. Linda Yancey, an infectious disease specialist at Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, Texas, vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect your children from experiencing significant illness. "The incalculable benefits of vaccines cannot be overstated, millions of lives have been saved by them and millions more will be in the years to come," Dr. Yancey told Healthline.