Parents, are you looking for ways to keep your family safe amid this winter’s “tripledemic” and the regular spread of winter germs? Consider the bivalent COVID-19 booster, which is now recommended for all children 6 months and older.
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its approval of the latest COVID-19 booster shot for children 6 months through 5 years of age. The updated version of the vaccine offers greater protection against newer strains of the virus, such as Omicron.
“More children now have the opportunity to update their protection against COVID-19 with a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, and we encourage parents and caregivers of those eligible to consider doing so – especially as we head into the holidays and winter months where more time will be spent indoors,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D., in a press statement.
This additional preventative measure is crucial given this year’s triple-whammy of respiratory illnesses spreading concurrently: namely, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the flu, and COVID-19.
As SheKnows previously reported, the 2022 RSV season came on strong and early, causing pediatric hospitalization rates throughout the U.S. to skyrocket. This common respiratory virus can cause severe illness in certain high-risk patients, such as very young or immunocompromised children, who may require hospitalization to help them breathe.
As of last week, RSV cases appear to have peaked. The bad news? Flu season has also descended upon the U.S. Like RSV, the flu can cause severe complications in people from certain high-risk groups. It has already resulted in more than 78,000 hospitalizations nationwide. Pharmacists are also reporting shortages of key medications used to treat the flu and other bacterial co-infections. And all of this is occurring on top of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on our lives — and our nation’s healthcare infrastructure — for more than two years now.
Nationwide, about 76 percent of pediatric hospital beds are now in use, CNN reported last week. So, yes, we’re in for a doozy of a cold and flu season, but the question remains: What can parents do to keep their children healthy this winter?
Vaccines are an excellent first line of defense. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about getting them inoculated — or boosted, where applicable — for the flu and COVID-19. Both vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended by U.S. health authorities for everyone 6 months and older. There is no vaccine for RSV at this time, although one is reportedly in development.
In addition to vaccines, parents and their children should also prioritize good hygiene practices — so, regular hand-washing, proper sneezing and coughing etiquette, and frequent disinfection of high-use surfaces. And if your child does fall ill, keep them home from school or daycare. Since RSV, the flu, and COVID-19 are all respiratory illnesses, they spread very easily in congregate settings.
All three illnesses present with similar symptoms, so it can be difficult to differentiate between them. As such, it’s vital to get your child tested and correctly diagnosed as soon as possible. They may be eligible for certain medications to help ease their symptoms or shorten the duration of their illness.
Before you go, check out the all-natural cough and cold products we love for kids:
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