Why children’s viruses are increasing – and it’s not just COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are increasing in the southern United States. Pediatrician Deborah Greenhouse, MD, explained why RSV and other viruses might be on the rise.
“In the first year of the pandemic, everyone was distancing or staying home,” she said. “They were wearing masks when they had to be out, and we weren’t seeing a whole lot of the other infectious diseases. At the same time people were at home, they weren’t bringing their children to their routine well visits and immunizations. So now we’re in a completely different scenario.”
Which viruses are increasing?
“We’re seeing so many other things in addition to RSV, such as croup and hand, foot and mouth disease. We have to pay attention to that because, as we’ve seen an uptick in COVID, this rise in cases starts to affect everybody. It’s not just a matter of whether a child who has COVID can access care. It’s the child who’s sick with anything. And that’s where the immunizations come in,” said Dr. Greenhouse.
How do immunizations help?
“The most important intervention that we have had throughout my career is immunizations,” she said. “It’s how we keep our kids safe. But if our kids aren’t getting their well visits or their vaccines, we could bring in a whole lot of trouble. Not just COVID, but with some of these other diseases.”
The problem with children being behind on their vaccines is that it lowers herd immunity, and it allows other viruses to come in and take hold. One of the easiest ones to break herd immunity is pertussis. Measles is also highly contagious, so it’s important for children to be up to date on their vaccines.
Immunizations also help prevent viral outbreaks from becoming bacterial illnesses.
“I encourage families to call their pediatrician and find out what their child needs. If you are 12 or older, please get the COVID vaccine. It’s easy to access, and it works,” said Dr. Greenhouse.
If you have questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, reach out to your pediatrician.
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