CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — New numbers from the CDC show the majority of kids in the U.S. have been infected with COVID-19.

The CDC estimates around 140 million Americans have had COVID since the beginning of the pandemic. That translates to around 43% of the population.

Meanwhile, nearly 60% of kids under the age of 17 have had COVID compared to less than a quarter of senior citizens. Researchers evaluated nearly 72,000 blood samples to estimate the number of infections.

“Thankfully children do tend to do quite well with COVID. There have been several hundred deaths in children in the United States. Generally, in children that have other health problems,” said Dr. David Priest, Novant Health’s chief safety, quality, and epidemiology officer.

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In North Carolina, only 22 kids under the age of 17 have died from COVID-19 complications. More than 16,000 senior citizens have died from COVID-19, according to the state’s COVID dashboard.

Health experts say it’s not just deaths and hospitalizations they’re worried about, particularly with kids.

“We’re really just now starting to get an understanding of the effects of long COVID. And we really have more years to go before we understand it fully. So patients, both young and old, may not be as fortunate in their recovery,” said Dr. Nicole Allen, a Family Medical Physician.

While kids may be the most infected age group, they are also the least vaccinated. Plus, kids under the age of 5 aren’t eligible for a vaccine.

Health officials say even if your kids had COVID, you should still get vaccinated.

“We know for sure, there’s a lot of good data that shows after getting a natural COVID-19 infection, some people get that long and strong protection. [For] some people, it’s pretty weak. It’s pretty short. And it goes away quickly,” said Dr. Charlene Wong, the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at NCDHHS.