The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday urged parents to vaccinate their teenagers against COVID-19, citing a rise in the number of adolescents hospitalized with the disease in March and April.
"I am deeply concerned by the number of hospitalized adolescents and saddened to see the number of adolescents who required treatment in intensive care units or mechanical ventilation," CDC director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement that accompanied a new study on teen hospitalizations.
Walensky implored parents to talk with teens about the importance of continuing to wear masks and "encourage them to get vaccinated." She said the CDC has recommended the Pfizer vaccine for people who are 12 and older based on the results of clinical trials.
The majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are adults, but adolescents aged 12 to 17 can also come down with severe symptoms of the disease.
In the first three months of the year, CDC researchers found that nearly one-third of adolescents hospitalized with COVID-19 required admission into an intensive care unit and 5% needed invasive mechanical ventilation.
No teenagers in the U.S. died of COVID-19 from Jan. 1 to March 31, according to data compiled by the CDC.
"Much of this suffering can be prevented," Walensky said in the statement.
"Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic. I continue to see promising signs in CDC data that we are nearing the end of this pandemic in this country; however, we all have to do our part and get vaccinated to cross the finish line," she added.
This story originally appeared on NBC News.