Last year, health experts warned parents about the potential for a twindemic – cases of COVID and the flu rising during the winter. Now, as families prepare for more holiday time togetherness, the threat of a tripledemic remains, which is three viruses circulating that can make children seriously sick.
From infants at day care to preschoolers and grade school students, your children are, once again, in close quarters all day with other children.
“Remember, also, they’ve had two plus years where they haven’t had that ongoing exposure to this virus and that virus. Their immune systems are not on that same level of constant vigilance,” said Dr. Vandana Madhavan, Massachusetts General Hospital pediatric infectious disease expert.
All that togetherness means children might need added virus protection. For starters, the updated COVID boosters became available for children ages 5 to 11 in mid-October.
“So, this booster not only continues to protect against the original SARS-Co2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19 but has a specific component that helps protect against Omicron,” Madhavan explains.
Madhavan said parents should also make sure everyone in the family is vaccinated against the flu. She said children can get their COVID booster and flu shot at the same visit. Even if parents have waited until now, it’s still not too late.
“In many years, we see two different peaks of influenza,” Madhavan explains.
Finally, Madavan warns parents of children under the age of 2 to be aware of the symptoms 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 available for RSV, which spreads from touching an infected person, so family members showing signs of a cold, like a runny nose or cough, should avoid contact with young babies. One other note, since the flu shot may take up to two weeks before it protects against the virus, a flu shot now may ease the pain of a springtime surge.