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News headlines are blowing up about the “tripledemic” of Flu + RSV + COVID infections that are hospitalizing children across the US. The images are heartbreaking, as we see tiny babies struggling to breath and terrified parents looking helpless.
Some cases are severe and need life-saving intervention. If you suspect your child is in distress, as in they are struggling to breathe, seek help for them.
If you feel familiar with natural remedies and would like some options to try at home, I am providing them for you here.
Are the headlines telling the truth?
True: it is true that in the post-COVID world, we are seeing severe cases of illness when multiple viruses hit at once.
False: the only preventative action we can take as parents is immunizations. I’ve heard the words “2 of 3 of these viruses are preventable with vaccines” reported several times in these news stories. While it’s true that 2 of the 3 viruses in the tripledemic have vaccines, it is not true that vaccines prevent infection. The more appropriate way to phrase this is, “Vaccines may reduce risk of infection, but we are still working to collect data on this.”
Do vaccines help?
The short answer to this is, it depends! Here are some facts to help you decide what’s best for your children.
Fact: The Influenza vaccine is, at best, 44% effective in cases of lab confirmed influenza in children age 6 months -17 years. There are various different ways these statistics are pulled, which can be quite confusing. The data for “clinically confirmed cases” of influenza shows 65% effectiveness in children. If that were true, it’s still leaves a 35% chance a child will be infected with the flu.
Fact: the effectiveness of the flu vaccine depends on whether the immunization matches the circulating strain.
Almost every childhood illness starts with cough, congestion, and fever! So how do you know it’s RSV?
- Using accessory muscles to breath
- Uncontrolled coughing fits
- Grunting sounds when exhaling
- Chest retractions
- Nasal flaring
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart rate.
Facts about RSV
The illness typically lasts 2 weeks, with cough and congestion symptoms lasting 3 weeks!
The age at highest risk is infants < 6 months. Parents should have a much lower threshold for taking their babies to the hospital when they’re this little.
The death rate of RSV in the US is .003% for children under age 1. The risk of death decreases with age. Older children have larger airways and are more resilient to RSV.
Factors that increase risk of RSV infection
- Going to daycare
- Having an older sibling
- Living at high altitude (>2500)
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Premature birth
- Pre-existing conditions in heart, lungs, or immune deficiency