Healthwatch: UVM pediatrician says flu cases on the rise

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Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 5:57 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2022 at 7:28 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - There are plenty of viruses circulating through local schools and daycares right now, causing kids to spend more time at home. In addition to COVID, hospitals must also contend with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and now, the flu.

When it comes to RSV. UVM Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Becca Bell says the number of positive tests and the number of kids going to the hospital is starting to go down. “However, I will say we are still very busy regardless. There’s still a lot of RSV in the community, however, it does appear we’ve peaked,” she said. Dr. Bell says that pre-pandemic, RSV had a 12-week busy cycle that usually ran from January to March. Now, it appears we just went through that in October, November, and December. “We will probably still see RSV in the winter, but I don’t think we’re going to see it at the levels that we saw this fall. I think that we had our season early.”

But the flu is beginning to cause coughs and fevers with a rise in Influenza A in Vermont. Bell says while they are seeing some flu cases in the hospital, most kids can recover at home. “We don’t actually recommend that folks, even kids, seek out testing to figure out whether they have RSV or the flu, we just ask people to seek care if they’re worried,” she said.

A bottle of medicine is a go-to for a parent or caregiver dealing with a sick kid, but sometimes it’s hard to find one on the shelf. Pharmacists say supply chain issues persist. “Some of it has to do with the pandemic and the supply chain having trouble getting back to where it was pre-pandemic, but a lot of it has to do with the spike in three major viruses right now,” said Steve Simpson, a pharmacist at Kinney Drugs.

Simpson says parents have some options, like trying another store or checking back the next day; getting a doctor to prescribe fever-reducing medicine; or trying non-medicinal remedies. And don’t hoard meds because they’re harder to find. “You’re just basically taking away the ability for another child or another parent to get that for their child.”

Dr. Bell is encouraging people to get vaccinated against the flu. Right now, about 37%, of Vermonters have received their flu shot. This is a lower number than this time in 2020 and 2021.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story included a misstatement. Simpson says it is safe to use Infant’s and Children’s Tylenol interchangeably, as long as you follow the directions. A few years ago, the concentration of Infant’s Tylenol was higher than Children’s Tylenol, but Simpson says that is no longer the case.