An undercount of COVID-19 hospitalizations in children on the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) COVID-19 dashboard has been corrected. VDH officials attributed the miscount to a code error.
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On Monday, the dashboard showed 380 total hospitalizations for children under 18 during the pandemic. These hospitalization numbers were part of the dashboard’s expansion on Friday, which includes information about third and booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, the Virginia Pilot highlighted discrepancies between this figure and other reports, particularly one that said approximately 1,000 people under 20 in the state were hospitalized from COVID-19 as of last month.
By Tuesday, the VDH dashboard reported 946 total hospitalizations for children under 18. Logan Anderson, VDH public information officer, put out this statement on behalf of the department on Tuesday:
“On October 18, VDH published a data dashboard on the effects of COVID-19: Cases Among Children. There was an inadvertent oversight in the code that processes the data that feeds the dashboard, resulting in an inaccurate number of hospitalizations. There have been 948 children under 18 hospitalized before October 10, 2021. This dashboard has now been corrected.”
Youth hospitalizations in Virginia have spiked during the fall, according to CDC data. Julian Walker, vice president of communications for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA), said hospitals are concerned of another COVID-19 surge in the winter.
“Now that people are interacting more, and kids are back in school settings, I think that concern also exists — that the reintroduction of people and of social or congregate settings could lead to the spread of illness, whether COVID or otherwise, as the temperatures get cooler.”
On Aug. 13, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 12 and up, which VDH commended. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE are also seeking FDA approval for children aged five to11 to receive the vaccine, and submitted the relevant clinical data last month.
State data showed around 66.9% of children in the Commonwealth were vaccinated as of Wednesday.