COVID-19: Average age of hospitalisations in NZ plummeting

The average age of people hospitalised with COVID-19 is plummeting as more and more young people need medical care.

Data provided by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday shows we have 37 people in hospital, up from 35 on Monday. The current average age of hospitalisations in the latest outbreak is 45 years.

However, over the past fortnight the average age of hospitalisations has dropped to 38.

The ministry says this reflects a trend of younger people being hospitalised, with only 6 percent of the 372 hospital admissions in the latest outbreak among the 65-and-over age group.

COVID-19: Average age of hospitalisations in NZ plummeting
Photo credit: Ministry of Health

The latest data shows that per 1000 people, only 492 New Zealanders aged 12 to 19 are fully vaccinated. In the 20-34 age range, there's a bump to 525 per 1000 fully vaccinated, while in comparison 893 per 1000 people aged 65 and over are double-dosed.

Compared to the national average age for second doses, every age group below 49 is doing worse. Going by first doses, the same drop below the national average happens below the 45-49 age group.

COVID-19: Average age of hospitalisations in NZ plummeting
Photo credit: Ministry of Health

There are fears the low numbers of young people who're fully vaccinated will lead to an explosion in cases as Auckland's students return to school today.

Appearing on The AM Show on Tuesday morning, New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) president Melanie Webber said there are serious concerns about vaccination rates and appealed for more information.

"We're worried about the students. We're worried about the students that are being told they need to come back to school, but the students themselves know they're not fully vaccinated yet. "They're really worried about what that means for their family, who are at home," she said. 

"When we talk about keeping kids safe in schools, it's about those layers of levels - masks, physical distancing. But what's a really key piece that we're being told by the Government [will] keep us safe, the vaccination rates, aren't there - particularly for young people and also our younger teachers."

And experts are worried the number of unvaccinated will continue to lead to higher hospitalisation rates for youth, especially amongst Māori and Pacific peoples.

"I would anticipate that when COVID starts increasing in numbers in south Auckland, we will be seeing a lot more children in our emergency department and that worries me a bit a lot actually," Inia Tomash, an emergency department consultant at Middlemore Hospital, told The Hui on Monday.

"Every day I go to work I see inequity for Māori and Pasifika, across all specialities and COVID's nothing new. Now I see it again every day I go to work, the people who should be vaccinated who are not.

"That includes the very vulnerable, as well as the young and fit who are more likely to spread it, both across all groups, so that's a big worry for me."