By Caroline Vandergriff

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Health experts are urging families to vaccinate their teenagers after a new report from the CDC showed an increase in the number of adolescents hospitalized for COVID-19 in March and April.

Nearly one-third of the 12 to 17-year-olds required ICU admission.

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“Adolescents get infected,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Health and a professor at UT Southwestern. “Adolescents get sick. 30 percent of the adolescents that were hospitalized had no underlying risk factors.”

Dr. Kahn says the new CDC data showing this national trend underscores the importance of getting young people vaccinated.

The shot is now authorized for anyone over the age of 12.

“If you have a child in your home who is eligible to get the vaccine, get them vaccinated,” he said. “I certainly understand the hesitancy. This is a relatively new vaccine. There are all kinds of rumors out there about this, but for the most part, it’s an extraordinarily safe vaccine.”

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According to the CDC, about 6.5 million young people in the U.S., ages 12 to 17, have received at least one dose of the Pfizer shot.

It’s the exact same one adults get and is available at neighborhood pharmacies, county vaccine clinics, and even through some school districts.

Dr. Kahn says for teens to return to a more normal life, they need to get vaccinated.

“My concern is there’s going to be lingering COVID for months, if not years, if we don’t take advantage of this particular situation right now and get everyone vaccinated,” Dr. Kahn said.

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According to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, there were three COVID-19 patients under the age of 18 in area hospitals on Monday night, June 7.

Caroline Vandergriff