Going back to school means exposure to more germs and insects, and this year parents need to worry even more as the pandemic continues to rage in parts of the country.
Some DC area pediatricians say they are busier than ever in the pandemic now, treating young patients for everything from COVID-19 to the common cold and other respiratory viruses circulating.
“With our kids in school, with our kids in daycare, they’re going to bring the infection back to us as their parents, and we’re going to get sick,” said Dr. Krupa Playforth.
Nationally, children make up a third of all COVID-19 cases, but that’s not all that keeps pediatricians like Playforth busy.
“We see a wide variety of bugs, some more typical summer bugs and others that we actually see more in the winter months,” Playforth said. “A lot of RSV now.”
Cases of coronavirus and the early arrival of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are both having a major effect on the Children’s National Hospital in DC, which reached capacity last weekend and had to use space in other parts of the hospital to treat young patients.
“Maybe we have more acute care patients in an area in our emergency department,” said Dr. David Wessel.
“And then we have peak capacity outside of our operating rooms and in recovery areas,” Wessel said.
Wessel, the chief medical officer at Children’s, warns that emergency room wait times could be longer due to the recent rise. But he says the hospital has planned ahead for this influx of patients and no one will be turned away.
“Our occupancy at the hospital will remain close to our capacity for the coming weeks,” he said. “But we have plans beyond the wave we’re seeing now and can use other parts of our hospital to expand our beds.”
If children are sick, chances are that parents will feel it too. And it can hit hard, especially after a year and a half of social distancing and wearing face masks.
“It’s not surprising that kids bring bugs home, but this year we may all be a little more vigilant,” Playforth said.
That’s because the symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to other viruses circulating now.
Doctors say the best advice is to stay home if you or your children are sick, and if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, get vaccinated if you qualify to ease the pressure on local hospitals.
“Any symptom you have will potentially lead you down the quarantine path, but also because we want to reduce the burden on health professionals and healthcare facilities,” Playforth said.
She said she also sees more cases of strep throat at this time of year, with children going back to school.
Flu season is also upon us, and now it’s time to get your flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone six months and older get one.