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Respiratory Illnesses are Rising Among Children. Public Health Experts Offer Advice for Families.

The Cambridge Public Health Department is alerting residents that there has been a sharp rise in infants and children in Massachusetts seeking care for respiratory illnesses this fall. These illnesses include RSV, rhinovirus and enterovirus, and the flu.

Massachusetts emergency departments and other health care sites are reporting significant increases in the number of people requiring care for respiratory illnesses, particularly infants and children. Some of these infants and children have required hospitalization for support with oxygen, monitoring and IV hydration.

Young children are particularly susceptible to seasonal respiratory infections this fall and winter because they have had limited previous exposure to these viruses. During the pandemic, young children did not have regular or early exposure to common viruses, which would have helped build up their immunity.

In response to the recent increase in respiratory illnesses, the state health department and the Massachusetts chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics offer this advice to families on how to stay healthy this winter:

  • Vaccinate your children age 6 months and older against influenza as soon as possible.
  • Vaccinate your children age 6 months and older against COVID-19. Children age 5 and older who had their primary series more than 2 months ago should receive a bivalent COVID-19 booster as soon as possible.
  • Get vaccinated yourself against COVID-19 vaccine and the flu. If you avoid illness, you are less likely to expose your child to illness.
  • Keep your infant on schedule with their monthly treatments if they have been offered treatment with protective antibodies due to prematurity or another condition.
  • Practice hand hygiene frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. If a tissue is not available, use your elbow (not your hand).
  • Clean high touch surfaces in your home frequently with household disinfectants.
  • Keep children home from daycare or school if they have fever, especially with a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat, until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever.
  • Avoid social gatherings if you or your children are ill.
  • Contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider if you believe your child needs medical care. Your provider can offer advice on whether your child needs to be evaluated in person, tested for COVID or flu, and the best location (doctor’s office, urgent care, emergency room) for care.

Page was posted on 11/4/2022 10:57 AM
Page was last modified on 11/4/2022 10:59 AM
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