November 30, 2022

In The News: Children’s Health Leaders Call for Emergency Response as Respiratory Viruses Continue to Spread Across the US

CNN reports on a request by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association for a formal emergency declaration amid “an alarming surge of pediatric respiratory illnesses” in the United States. More than half of the states reported ‘high’ or ‘very high’ respiratory virus activity to the CDC the Friday before Thanksgiving.

Health and Human Services Department data shows three-quarters of pediatric hospital beds are in use nationwide. That is up about two-thirds over the past two years average. Flu rates were reported to be on par with the December/January apex of flu season while RSV hospitalizations were 10 times higher than the normal rate. Representatives from children’s hospitals nationwide are noted in the article of being at or near capacity, to the point of debating whether to accept transfers from other locations.

AAP and CHA wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra of a need for “emergency funding support and flexibilities along the same lines of what was provided to COVID surges.” Meeting that need, the organizations argue, would help address the unprecedented levels of illness, mental health issues among children, and pediatric workforce shortages at hospital and community levels. In the interim, experts in the piece encourage getting everyone current on flu and COVID vaccines prior to the holidays and dusting off masks to aid in curbing an unusual respiratory virus season.

PIDS member Tina Tan is among those experts and is quoted in the article, “RSV has already strained the hospital systems to capacity or over capacity. Now you have flu that is starting to surge in other areas where they’re trying to deal with the RSV surge, and you also have Covid that’s starting to increase. So it really is putting a major strain on hospital systems all across the United States…There are a lot of unprotected children out there that are at risk for coming down with vaccine preventable diseases.”

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