COVID-19 cases in younger children caused Maine to experience a record number of infections in November, highlighting the ongoing threat of the delta variant to a group generally considered less affected by the virus.
Maine reported more new cases of the virus in November than any other month, with unvaccinated people still responsible for a majority of cases despite currently making up a minority of the state’s population. The high infection rate has also contributed to the record number of hospital admissions, with 367 COVID-19 patients hospitalized since Tuesday.
While the number of cases has risen in all age groups, the increase in the past month was largely driven by cases among young children who are unable or less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of adults aged 20 and over in Maine barely set a record last month, with 11,465 cases registered through Nov. 29 compared to 11,383 in January this year. But the 3,685 cases recorded during that period among children under the age of 12 were a 69 percent jump from the previous record after schools resumed sessions in September.
Among children under the age of 5, who are still ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines, about 1 in 71 tested positive in November alone, state data shows. There were five new hospitalizations among children in that age group.
Even with that increase in the youngest children, hospital admissions in children remain much lower than in adults. But higher infection rates have disrupted education in many parts of the state. Nearly 200 schools in Maine saw COVID-19 outbreaks last week. Outbreaks are more likely in areas with higher community transmission of the virus, and some schools have been temporarily isolated due to the increase in cases.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also found that in the second half of November, Maine was one of the states with the highest percentage of childhood cases. The cumulative number of childhood COVID-19 cases here remains comparable to the national average.
Increased vaccination coverage in children could reduce cases among children, such as in vaccinated adults. But a month after federal regulators approved the lower-dose Pfizer vaccine for use in children between the ages of 5 and 11, only about 31 percent of children in that age group have received at least one dose, compared with about 82 percent of children in that age group. the 12-year-old Mainers. and older.