As we continue to work our way through COVID and now flu season, the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) has also reared its ugly head with its current surge. The increase of cases of all three viruses is being called the “tripledemic”, which has affected communities across the nation from empty classrooms to overcrowded emergency rooms and pediatric units at hospitals.
RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. While most people recover within a week or two, many cases can be serious for infants and older adults. It is the most common form of bronchitis and pneumonia in children younger than one year of age in the United States.
According to the CDC, approximately 58,000-80,000 children younger than 5 years of age are hospitalized due to RSV each year. Those at greatest risk for severe illness from RSV include:
Infants under the age of 6 months
Children under the age of 2 with chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease
Children with weakened immune systems
Children with neuromuscular disorders
Early symptoms of RSV in children include a runny nose, decrease in appetite and a cough that can progress to wheezing or trouble breathing. Individuals infected with RSV are normally contagious for 3-8 days and can also become contagious up to 2 days before showing symptoms. Some infants and adults with weakened immune systems can still be contagious for up to 4 weeks even after showing symptoms. It is estimated that between 60,000-120,000 older adults are hospitalized due to RSV in the United States each year. Those at higher risk include individuals 65 years and older, adults with chronic heart or lung disease and adults with weakened immune systems.
The circulation of RSV starts in the fall and can peak in the winter, which is right around the corner. So how do you prevent yourself or a loved one from getting RSV?
Wash your hands often
Keep your hands off of your face
Avoid close contact with sick individuals
Cover your coughs and sneezes
Clean and disinfect surfaces
Stay home when you are sick
As there is not yet a vaccine for RSV, the steps above are important to follow in order to prevent yourself from obtaining the virus. However, vaccines are available for the flu and COVID and all individuals age 6 months and older are encouraged to get them as soon as possible. Vaccines can help to prevent serious illness so that even if you do get the flu or COVID, your symptoms will be mild and you have less of a chance of being hospitalized.
If you still need to schedule your flu shot, WellSpan Health also offers the vaccine at various locations throughout Franklin County. Schedule yours today here.
You can also schedule your flu shot at Keystone Health Pediatrics Flu Shot Clinics here. Text or call (717) 709-7950 to schedule as well!
For additional locations to receive a COVID vaccine or booster, visit https://www.vaccines.gov/