Latest Update for Parents: COVID, Flu Cases and RSV Antibody Shot
Cook Children's hospitalist Laura Romano, D.O., answers top questions about the current state of COVID cases, flu cases and the new RSV antibody shot.
By Eline Wiggins
As COVID-19 cases rise at Cook Children's, the Food and Drug Administration has approved an updated COVID vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone 6 months and older should get the new shot to protect against serious illness.
COVID cases at Cook Children’s Medical Center have been steadily increasing since early July. From the week of Sept. 17 through Sept. 23, the positivity rate is 10% or 69 positive cases out of 679 patients tested.
The new vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are matched to protect against the most common COVID variants circulating now. Please contact your pediatrician's office to schedule an appointment.
The fall and winter months are a common time for respiratory illnesses to spread in our community; in addition to COVID-19, there is typically a rise in flu and RSV cases.
Schedule you and your child’s flu shot as soon as possible to help prevent severe illness and spread of the flu.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. It is the leading cause of hospitalization for infants, who are much more susceptible to the disease.
This year, infants will have a better chance of protection if they receive the new monoclonal antibody injection for the prevention of severe RSV, which has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and health care visits in infants. This one-time injection was recently approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC. The treatment will be available at Cook Children's pediatrician offices soon.
Laura Romano, D.O., a hospitalist at Cook Children’s Medical Center, answers some of the top questions from parents regarding these respiratory illnesses, treatment and prevention.
What are COVID cases like right now? Why should my child get the new COVID vaccine?
Positive COVID cases at Cook Children’s Medical Center have been steadily climbing since the end of June and early July. Across the country, there are higher rates of COVID hospitalizations in both adults and pediatrics. Your child should get a yearly COVID vaccination because we know that this will protect them. People who are vaccinated against COVID have a significantly decreased risk of hospitalization, ICU admission, and death.
What are the symptoms of most COVID cases right now?
Symptoms are mainly upper respiratory symptoms (cough, nasal congestion, sore throat). It’s also causing fevers, muscle aches, and fatigue. And yes, these symptoms are very similar to the flu!
Should my children and I be wearing face masks?
You should consider wearing a mask if you, your child, or anyone in your home is at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection. This includes people who are 65 years and older and people with certain medical conditions such as heart conditions, lung disease, diabetes, sickle cell, or a neurologic condition.
During flu, RSV, and COVID-19 seasons, it is very reasonable to wear a mask whenever you are in crowded indoor spaces. This includes pediatric office and emergency room waiting rooms!
My child is involved in many in-person activities this fall. What can we do to protect against COVID?
- Consider wearing a mask
- Get the latest vaccine
- Stay home if you are sick
My child’s classmate tested positive for COVID. What should I do?
- If your child is having symptoms, test immediately. If the initial test is negative, repeat in 48 hours if your child is still symptomatic.
- If your child does not have symptoms, wait five days and take another test.
If my child received a COVID vaccine more than six months ago, should they get the new vaccine?
Yes, they should! The CDC recommends that anyone 6 months and older who is two months out from their last COVID vaccine get the new vaccine.
Will it protect my child against the latest variant?
Yes, the newest vaccine was designed for the currently circulating variants so it should help protect your child.
What are flu cases like now? When is flu season?
Flu cases are currently low at Cook Children’s. Flu season typically begins in the late fall and stretches into the winter. However, last year we saw unprecedented numbers of influenza very early in the season.
Why should my child get a flu shot?
Flu vaccines help protect against severe cases of the flu. If your child gets the flu vaccine, they may still get the flu, but they will have more mild symptoms and should not need to be hospitalized with a severe infection.
When will flu shots become available?
Flu shots are currently available at many Cook Children’s pediatrician offices. Check with your pediatrician’s office. Many local pharmacies have them as well.
RSV monoclonal antibody shot
What age groups can get the RSV monoclonal antibody injection?
Infants under 8 months during their first respiratory season and children who are at high risk up to 24 months of age. Talk to your pediatrician about your child’s risk, especially if they have a history of prematurity, heart disease, or chronic lung disease.
What should parents consider with this antibody treatment?
Our babies and infants are the most vulnerable population during cold and flu season so this will give them some protection and lower the chances of having a severe infection.
RSV can cause symptoms ranging from a runny nose to respiratory failure, requiring an ICU admission. It usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but it can be serious, especially for infants.
RSV causes bronchiolitis, which can be very serious and sometimes fatal in babies. The new antibody treatment has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by nearly 80%, according to the CDC.
When will the new antibody be available?
The new antibody treatment will be available soon. For newborns, it may be given in the nursery prior to your infants discharge after birth. For older infants, families should reach out to their pediatrician about availability.
Will my child show symptoms once they receive the antibody shot?
Your child may still get symptoms of RSV after receiving the treatment but they are expected to be less severe.
Your doctor will monitor for any signs of a reaction during the infusion and after with your assistance.
How long is it effective?
Since this is an antibody and not a vaccine, it is designed to provide a temporary boost in immunity only. It will provide short-term protection lasting about 5 months which should cover the 2023-2024 RSV season.
If my child previously had RSV, do they have antibodies?
Yes, but the antibodies your body’s immune system makes to RSV last only two to three months. It is very possible for a child to get RSV multiple times in one respiratory season.
Vaccines to protect against severe flu & COVID
Get updated flu and COVID vaccines – these will help prevent infection and reduce the risk of hospitalization. You can call your pediatrician to schedule an appointment to receive vaccinations.
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.
Flu immunizations, COVID-19 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)