By: Dr. Eric Levene, Chester Pediatrics
The triple-demic is here. RSV, flu, and COVID-19 rates are rising all at the same time – and it’s not pretty. Many states are reporting high flu activity, and we see RSV and COVID-19 rates rising all over the country. Pediatric emergency rooms are experiencing long waits and pediatric hospitals in many parts of the country are running out of beds and ICU space for children who need admission.
So, what can you do to keep your child and yourself healthy this winter?
First, keep up on vaccinations. Make sure your child is up to date on the “regular” pediatric vaccines. This is important so we don’t see outbreaks of illnesses we can prevent. We recently have seen measles outbreaks in areas where vaccine rates declined since the pandemic began. Vaccine-preventable illnesses are an unnecessary addition to seasonal illnesses. Pediatricians are recommending that you, your child, and your family get the flu vaccine this year. The good news is that this year’s flu vaccine is a good match to the current circulating flu virus. While the vaccine might not prevent the flu entirely, we know that getting the vaccine can reduce the risk of hospitalization and serious illness. Doctors are also recommending you receive your COVID-19 vaccine and booster if eligible. We are recommending both vaccines even if you have already had the illness. If you have questions about either vaccine reach out to your trusted pediatrician to have a conversation.
What else can you do? Washing hands frequently can help. The CDC is now recommending masking again to prevent transmission of all respiratory illnesses in crowded indoor settings. While we all would like to forget about masks, wearing masks is an easy way to protect the vulnerable in your family. Medical offices and hospitals are still places where masks are required, so if you are heading to your physician’s office, please bring a mask.
While thinking about indoor gatherings this holiday season, think about how you can reduce the transmission of illnesses. If someone is sick, stay home. I know nobody likes to miss a fun event but getting our friends and family sick is also not enjoyable. Consider testing for COVID before attending any event. If you are hosting an indoor event in your home, there are things you can do to reduce illness transmission. Crack open windows, use HEPA filters in rooms and avoid people crowding in one place.
If your child does get sick- what should you do? Your trusted pediatrician is here to help. If your child has a high fever, difficulty breathing, or just does not look right to you, call your pediatrician’s office. We can schedule an appointment or do telehealth if appropriate or after normal business hours. We can also help you potentially avoid long waits at urgent care centers and emergency rooms.
We are now hearing about shortages of medications for children. Some of our most common antibiotics for children are now in short supply. Also, Tamiflu liquid to treat influenza in high-risk kids is also difficult to find at pharmacies. Your doctor and pharmacy are working hard to get these medications to the patients who need them.
We are also hearing of shortages of fever control medications for children, including Tylenol, Motrin, and Advil. If you are having a problem finding these medications for your children – look for the generic version of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Check supermarkets and stores like Target and Walmart. Other things you can do to lower fever are lukewarm baths or showers, cool compresses, and making sure the patient is well hydrated.
This is an unprecedented winter season. We do not know how long these illnesses will be around, but we all need to do what we can to help slow the spread of illness and do our best to keep our families, friends, and communities safe and healthy.
Let us all work together for a healthy and happy holiday season.
Allied Physicians Group is a partnership of more than 150 dedicated, caring physicians and 350 highly trained support staff. Allied serves over 180,000 patients with offices throughout Greater New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and beyond. Founded in 2006, Allied Physicians Group is a recognized leader in increasing healthcare efficiencies and patient satisfaction, emphasizing support, innovation, and collaboration. If you are looking for a Pediatrician near you click here or for more information please visit https://alliedphysiciansgroup.com/.