Health Headlines: Preventing a “tripledemic” with COVID, RSV, and the flu

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Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 9:00 AM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Now that families are preparing to get together for the holidays, health experts are echoing warnings about three viruses that can make children seriously sick. COVID-19, the flu, and RSV are all part of the “tripledemic” that doctors are trying to avoid.

And the ones that could end up spreading those viruses are often the smallest members of our family.

From infants at daycare to preschoolers and grade school students, kids are almost always in close quarters with other children. Because of this, doctors say parents should consider additional virus protection for their kids.

Dr. Madhavan says keeping up with vaccines is especially important because, “Remember, also, they’ve had two plus years where they haven’t had that ongoing exposure this virus and that virus. Their immune systems are not on that same level of constant vigilance.”

That starts with the updated COVID boosters that became available for children ages 5 to 11 in mid-October.

“So this booster not only continues to protect from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but also has a specific component that helps protect against Omacron,” says Dr. Madhavan.

She says parents should also make sure everyone in the family is vaccinated against the flu. It’s important to note that, like adults, kids can get their COVID booster and flu shot at the same time. And even if parents have waited until now, it’s still not too late for that added protection.

And just because flu numbers might start waiting, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear, “In many years, we see two different peaks of influenza.”

Dr. Madhavan warns that children under the age of two are also at risk of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. It causes cold-like symptoms but can lead to inflamed airways and pneumonia in babies.

There are no approved vaccines for RSV, which spreads from touching an infected person, so parents and family members showing signs of a cold, like a runny nose or cough, should avoid contact with young babies.

Additionally, those who get a flu shot should be aware that it can take up to two weeks before it starts protecting against the virus. However, getting one may ease the pain of a springtime surge in cases.