New York State Department of Health Issues Health Advisory Warning of An Increase In Pediatric Hospitalizations Associated With COVID-19

Advisory Alerts Pediatric Providers to Concerning Trends in New Hospital Admissions and Provides Recommendations for Detection, Infection Control and Preventive Patient Care Through Vaccination

Urges Parents and Guardians to Get All Children Five and Older Fully Vaccinated

Reminds Families that the Best Protection for Children is to Ensure All Around Them are Fully Vaccinated, Boosted, Wearing Masks, Avoiding Crowds and Testing Appropriately

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 24, 2021) -- The New York State Department of Health today announced the issuance of a Health Advisory to healthcare providers warning of an upward trend in pediatric hospitalizations associated with COVID-19. The recent increases are concentrated in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area where the highly contagious Omicron variant was first detected in the state and is spreading rapidly.

"The risks of COVID-19 for children are real," said Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "We are alerting New Yorkersto this recent striking increase in pediatric COVID-19 admissions so that pediatricians, parents and guardians can take urgent action to protect our youngest New Yorkers. We must use all available safe and effective infection control, prevention and mitigation strategies. Protect your children who are five years and older by getting them fully vaccinated and protect children under five by making sure all of those around them have protection through vaccination, boosters, mask-wearing, avoiding crowds and testing."

In New York City, the Department identified four-fold increases in COVID-19 hospital admissions for children 18 and under beginning the week of Dec. 5 through the current week, based on data reported to the Department through the Health Electronic Response Data System(HERDS). For the most recent week of reporting (Dec. 19, 2021) statewide, no 5 – 11-year-old who was admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19 was fully vaccinated. Over that same time, only one-fourth of 12 – 17-year-olds who were admitted to the hospital were fully vaccinated. These startling trends underscore the critical importance of protecting our children from COVID-19. The Department urges parents and guardians of all children five years and older to get their kids fully vaccinated as soon as possible. The Department also reminds families that the best protection for those under five is to ensure all those around them are fully protected through vaccination, boosters, proper mask-wearing, crowd avoidance and testing.

The New York State Department of Health continues to closely monitor the situation, work with local county health departments and communicate with pediatric providers so they can detect COVID-19 in young patients. The Advisory includes information for providers to identify symptoms, recommend testing and advocate for safe, preventive measures to keep children healthy and out of the hospital as the virus spreads and more time is spent indoors. The Department also encourages parents and guardians to be aware of common COVID-19 symptoms among their children including fatigue, headache, trouble sleeping, muscle aches, cough that becomes productive, sore throat, chills, nasal congestion and new loss of taste or smell. Testing, social distancing and quarantining following any household member's exposure are also appropriate mitigation measures for children.

As of Dec. 24, 2021, 27% of 5 – 11-year-olds have received at least one vaccine dose and 16.1% are fully vaccinated. 71.7% of 12 – 17-year-olds have received at least one vaccine dose and 64.1% are fully vaccinated. Adolescents 16 and older are now eligible and encouraged to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster dose. COVID-19 vaccination data by age is publicly available and updated daily. Hospitalization data is available at the State's Hospitalization Tracker.

The Department recommends the following resources for parents, guardians and pediatric caregivers:

  • Parents and guardians can schedule a free COVID-19 vaccine for their child five and older by visiting, texting your ZIP code to 438829or calling 1-800-232-0233 to find a vaccine location closest to you. Make sure that the provider offers the Pfizer-BioNTechCOVID-19 vaccine.
  • Parents and guardians can also schedule an appointment at any of the State's mass vaccination sites by visiting Am-I-Eligible or calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829). All sites are administering the vaccine for children and boosters for eligible New Yorkers.
  • Parents and guardians are also encouraged to contact their child's pediatrician, family physician, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers or pharmacies that may be administering the vaccine for this age group.
  • To learn more about the vaccine for children 5 – 11 years, visit, the dedicated FAQ page and the resources here.
  • To learn more about the vaccine for adolescents 12 – 17, visit, the dedicated FAQ page and the resources here.
  • It's okay to have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, especially for children. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine that New Yorkers can trust, including myths and facts about the vaccine, visit, the dedicated FAQ page and the resources, discussion guides, and toolkits here.
  • For more information on how to keep children safe from COVID-19, visit CDC's mask guidance here, holiday guidance here and guidance for families here.
  • Information on New York State's new mask requirement is available here and at the dedicated FAQ page.
  • Children ages five to 15 mayreceivethe Pfizer-BioNTechCOVID-19 vaccine, which is available under Emergency Use Authorization for this age group; this vaccine is fully approved for thoseage 16 and older. The other COVID-19 vaccines are notauthorized or approved for those under 16. Parents and guardians are encouraged to make sure their child is up to date on all recommended and required vaccinations, including the flu vaccine.Please visit the Department of Health website for more information on recommended childhood and adolescent immunizations.