The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted almost every facet of every day life, including the spread of other viruses. Possibly due to the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, those other respiratory viruses are back with somewhat of a vengeance. Kids are filling up hospitals with winter viruses such as the flu, RSV, and even the common cold.
“We are continuing to see a very high number of sick children with various respiratory problems,” said Dr. Stan Spinner, vice president and chief medical officer of Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Urgent Care in Houston in a recent interview with USA Today. “It was already pretty high before school started, but it has clearly gotten worse and faster than it typically takes.”
Dr. Elizabeth Schlaudecker, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital said to the popular news outlet that many of these children are ending up in the ER due to their lack of immunity from prior infection as lockdowns and masking slowed down the spread of these diseases.
“A lot of children everywhere are getting these viruses for the first time in rapid succession,” Schlaudecker said. “It’s a strain on the health care system because some of these kids are more sick or require medical attention.”
According to ABC News, hospitals across multiple states, including Washington, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, New Jersey and Massachusetts, are feeling the crush of this surge in hospitalizations and expect things to worsen as the school year continues and winter approaches.
Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine and Emergency Medicine Division chief at Seattle Children’s, told ABC News in a statement that his hospital, Seattle Children’s Hospital, is already “experiencing unprecedented Emergency Department (ED) volumes and inpatient census.”
So just what are parents supposed to do? Dr. Schlaudecker suggests that parents, “Don’t wait until your child gets really sick before you seek care and get your kids their flu shot.”
If your child is exhibiting symptoms of the common cold, the flu, or RSV, contact your pediatrician or healthcare professional immediately.