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Fact sheet

Fact Check: Mark Butler says teenagers with COVID-19 are ending up in hospital at a rate of one in 30. Is that correct?

COVID-19 Teenagers Public health Australia

 The National Cabinet has agreed on a plan to open up Australia once vaccination targets are achieved. The targets relate to the percentage of the population aged 16 years and older, despite the Therapeutic Goods Administration approving the Pfizer and Moderna jabs for all those aged 12 and above.

Opposition spokesman for health, Mark Butler, argued on the ABC's Insiders on August 29 that 12 to 15 year olds should be included in the national targets because they had become "the front line in this disastrous third wave" he said. "One in 30 teenagers who catch COVID is ending up in hospital." 

Official figures for teenagers — those aged from 13 to 19 — are not available. National data available when Mr Butler made his claim showed 2.9 per cent of those aged from 10 to 19 who had tested positive for COVID-19 were hospitalised. Data from NSW, home to the most serious outbreak, showed a similar picture. Of those aged from 12 to 17, 3 per cent were admitted to hospital. In other words, one in 33 or 34 teenagers with COVID-19 was being admitted to hospital. Data released since Mr Butler's interview shows the proportion has increased. However, experts told Fact Check that for those aged under 18, the primary reason for admission to hospital was as a place for safety while parents were sick or alternative carers were unavailable rather than for medical care.

Verdict: Mr Butler's claim is not the full story.

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