A Busy Flu Season is Upon Us, Here’s What You Can Do
Cook Children’s is facing an early increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and flu cases this season, which are overwhelming our medical facilities. Please help us by doing your part to help stop the spread of respiratory illnesses.
A surge in flu cases is often correlated with Thanksgiving and the approaching holiday season, so it’s important that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine now. Along with a spike in RSV cases, North Texas is currently a hotspot for flu activity.
“The influenza vaccine is a very safe and effective way to avoid getting sick with the flu,” said Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D. “One quick shot can potentially prevent a week of fever and feeling miserable. This is a no brainer.”
Parents and caregivers can remind their children to continue the healthy habits learned in the pandemic, including hand hygiene, coughing into a tissue or your elbow and staying home if you or your child feel sick. Face masks add increased protection, especially in public spaces.
Be sure that you and your family are updated on your COVID vaccines. As flu cases increase due to the holidays and travel, COVID cases often go up as well. Patients are still experiencing COVID. On Oct. 18, the rolling 7-day average was 2.3% positivity rate.
Why should I get the flu vaccine in response to the spike in RSV cases?
Our goal is for our community, our patients and our patient families to stay as healthy as possible. Our Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centers are currently overwhelmed with patients and resulting in extremely long wait times.
Vaccination against the flu helps prevent infection and can prevent serious outcomes in people who are vaccinated but still get sick with the flu. The vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalization.
Our emergency department is seeing more than 500 children each day. Our Urgent Cares are seeing nearly 800 children each day. This is the equivalent of a child being checked in to see a provider every 2 minutes and is resulting in extraordinarily long wait times for those who are not severely ill.
Additionally, Cook Children’s pediatric ICU remains near capacity with about half of patients diagnosed with RSV.
Parents should not go to Cook Children’s Urgent Care Centers or Emergency Department for only a flu or a COVID test. See your pediatrician, who can test for flu, RSV, strep throat and COVID. You can also use at-home COVID tests or tests from a pharmacy.
What are flu cases like now?
At Cook Children’s, flu cases are increasing earlier this year; the flu numbers we are currently seeing are equal to what we saw near the end of November 2021. There were 47 cases of Influenza A and one case of Influenza B at Cook Children’s Health Care System during the week of Oct. 9 – Oct 15.
RSV cases at Cook Children’s Health Care System:
- Oct. 2 – Oct 8: 210 cases
- (24% positivity rate)
- Oct. 9 – Oct. 15: 288 cases
- (29% positivity rate)
- Oct. 16 – Oct. 22: 246 cases
- (24% positivity rate)
Influenza A cases at Cook Children’s Health Care System:
- Oct. 9 – Oct. 15: 47 cases
- Oct. 16 – Oct. 22: 75 cases
Most of the United States is seeing an early increase in seasonal flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The southeast region and south-central region, which includes Texas, are reporting the highest levels of flu activity, the CDC said.
Everyone ages 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is the best way to protect your child and family from potentially serious complications from flu.
Texas is at a high activity level for respiratory illness, including fever plus a cough or sore throat. The map shows ILI (influenza-like illness), which includes patient visits due to other pathogens that cause similar symptoms. The cases reflected in the map are not all confirmed flu cases.
There’s no guaranteed way to avoid the flu. But getting the vaccine every year can help. At Cook Children’s, we believe that flu vaccinations are the safest, easiest way to protect everyone age 6 months and older from serious flu symptoms. And a flu vaccination during pregnancy helps protect your newborn baby from flu for several months after birth.
Immunizations and other services are available at Cook Children’s neighborhood clinics and primary care sites across Fort Worth and beyond. Find a location near you: Primary Care Offices/Neighborhood Clinics (cookchildrens.org)