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RSV, Flu, Covid-19 Put Pressure on Pediatricians

December 5, 2022

RSV, Flu, Covid-19 Put Pressure on Pediatricians


Unusually high rates of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, continue to fill pediatric units in hospitals around Alaska, marking a nasty cold and flu season that still hasn’t reached its peak.


RSV and influenza often present with symptoms similar to those of the common cold. RSV, in particular, can be devastating for young children and infants.


RSV works because it causes inflammation of the lungs, but it also causes increased secretions. The lungs become congested, and infants especially have nasal congestion. If their nose is all blocked up, it's really hard to breastfeed if they have a bottle in their mouth. We often see babies with RSV having a really hard time feeding.


Compared to 2019, there has been a 10-fold increase in RSV cases. Influenza and RSV are usually prevalent at this time of year, but the gradual decrease in disease mitigation precautions such as masks, social distance and staying home when sick means that more sick children are coming to the hospital. In 2020, there will be almost no cases of RSV.


Now, as we move into this new normal, people are not wearing masks and keeping social distance as they once did. Fewer families are getting their children vaccinated against the flu.


Before covid, we really pushed for the flu vaccine, and what we're seeing now is fewer and fewer kids getting the flu vaccine. Pediatric offices are seeing an increase in the number of families refusing routine vaccines.


The whole anti-vaccine movement has really hurt children's vaccinations, which is inappropriate.