Pediatricians ask Biden Administration for emergency declaration amid surging RSV cases

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 6:56 PM CST
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JEFFERSON CO., Ala. (WBRC) - Pediatricians are calling on the Biden Administration to declare an emergency in response to surging RSV cases.

They said health care providers and systems need more support.

Child Health Medical Director for the Jefferson County Department of Health, Dr. Khalilah Brown, said our health care systems are seeing an alarming surge of pediatric respiratory illnesses, including what she calls the “three-headed monster” of RSV, flu and COVID.

She said parents and caregivers need to do all they can to keep children well.

Dr. Khalilah Brown said Alabama was one of the first three states in the country to be impacted by surging cases of RSV, flu and other common viruses we typically see during this time of year.

She said cases have been trending upward for some time now.

“This is year is unique because we did see… really RSV never really went away, but we saw a very high peak very early and then influenza did the same thing. When you start talking about severe illnesses peaking early and peaking together, that can be significant, and again, we’re also trying to keep COVID at bay,” Dr. Brown said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 75%t of pediatric hospital beds are full across the country.

The surge comes as many hospital systems struggle to fill job vacancies.

“Pediatric care just like any other hospital and medical-based care saw a lot of people leave the profession in the midst of COVID. We had a lot of people retire out, a lot of nurses choosing to do other things. So, we’ve all got staffing shortages with an influx of significantly sick patients,” Dr. Brown explained.

That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics teamed up with the Children’s Hospital Association asking the federal government for a formal emergency declaration.

To be able to make sure we have the resources we need to take care of patients. Also, looking into stockpiles of things that would potentially be needed to treat emergency things such as medication,” Dr. Brown said.

Dr. Brown said our hospitals are used to dealing with these types of surges especially in wake of COVID.

But she says if your child is sick, the first line of defense is going to your pediatrician before going to the hospital or emergency room, and of course practicing preventative measures like regular hand washing, and staying home when you’re not feeling well.

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