The return to the school routine has kids’ immune systems fighting off RSV, flu and the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant.
Kali Broussard, MD, pediatrician and pediatric infectious diseases specialist with Our Lady of Lourdes Children’s Health, shares how parents can make the best decisions for their children’s health.
Recognizing Symptoms and When to Test
Dr. Broussard explains that COVID-19 can mimic the symptoms of a number of other illnesses, making diagnosis more difficult. Symptoms such as cough, congestion, fever, sore throat and fatigue are shared by several viruses.
Testing is essential to accurately identify COVID-19 cases. Dr. Broussard recommends testing kids who have fever and viral respiratory symptoms. Kids in daycare or school should test regularly to protect the entire community.
Managing a Positive Test in Children
For healthy children and the general public, Dr. Broussard recommends supportive care, including over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) for fever. Download our ibuprofen and acetaminophen dosing guide. Nasal allergy sprays (Flonase) can help relieve congestion. Honey can be given to children over one year old for cough relief.
In more severe cases requiring hospitalization, treatments such as IV remdesivir are available to manage COVID-19. Dr. Broussard emphasizes the importance of getting prompt medical attention for sick children.
Isolation recommendations are the same – download our infographic with the latest quarantine and isolation guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
The mental toll of such isolation can be challenging for both children and parents. Dr. Broussard recommends families maintain a sense of normalcy by establishing routines and spending time outdoors within your social bubble.
Avoid Multiple Illnesses at Once: Flu, COVID-19 and RSV
Hand hygiene is key to staying healthy. Staying home when you’re sick and avoiding others who are not feeling well are also important ways to keep illness from spreading. Masking is still a great way to keep others safe and avoid getting sick yourself when viruses are circulating.
Another important way to keep kids healthy is through vaccination – we have safe vaccines available. Protect them from the flu with an annual immunization each fall. The flu vaccine is effective in reducing the severity of respiratory diseases.
Children six months and older can be vaccinated against COVID-19. Updated booster shots are becoming available, and they help maintain immunity, which wanes over time.
A new passive antibody vaccine that protects against RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) can be given to newborns and children before 8 months of age to jumpstart their immunity and protect against the risk of severe disease.
Before COVID-19, RSV was the most common cause of bronchiolitis (a lower respiratory infection), which would bring children into the hospital needing oxygen, sometimes intubation and intensive care. Older adults are also able to get the RSV vaccine to protect them from serious respiratory illness.
Rates of children in Louisiana getting vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) have dipped.
Dr. Broussard says the MMR vaccine is exceptionally effective and has many studies proving its safety. She encourages parents to keep their children’s immunizations up-to-date. Download our guide to Wellness Checks from Newborn to Teenage Years with a complete vaccine schedule designed to know what to expect during your child’s upcoming visits.
If you have questions about vaccines for your children, talk with your pediatrician.