Are Kids Getting Less Sick This Year?
Remember always hearing that hand-washing is the top way to fight off getting sick? Well, hand-washing combined with masking has certainly proved this to be true this year. Doctors are seeing a much calmer respiratory season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal flu cases are at a record low this season. Not only that, but cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children, are also lower than usual. Experts attribute this to social distancing, hand-washing, keeping classrooms six feet apart, and kids not playing on the playground. Kids are always a big vector during the cold and flu season, and this year has greatly limited that.
So why, then, has Covid spread so rapidly? Experts have some theories on this, as well. First, more people than ever got a flu vaccine this year. This, along with general herd immunity from flu being present for many years, has helped the general community have immunity against the flu and other common viruses. Second, unfortunately, Covid is far more contagious than these other viruses. This makes social distancing, hand-washing, and masks even more important.
With kids getting less sick, many people are left wondering if this will affect their immune system in the long run. The short answer- probably not. Experts agree that while next year may cause some kids to get sick more frequently, our bodies will quickly learn to catch back up. If anything, kids will be keeping these new hygiene rules they have learned from this year.
Something important to mention is that with the decrease in common colds has come an increase in mental health concerns for younger children. Research has shown that isolation from friends, peers, relatives, and teachers can greatly effect children. Hospital emergency rooms have seen a shocking 24 percent increase in mental health visits in children ages 5 to 11 and 31 percent increase in children ages 12 to 17 compared to 2019.
If you notice any symptoms of anxiety or depression in your child, please reach out to your pediatrician.
The pandemic has led to an increase in mental health issues for children, but a decrease in common colds and other viruses. Children’s healthcare workers are hopeful these social distancing and hygiene practices will help children remain less likely to get sick for many years to come.
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Jeri Ford, RN, BSN, CPN
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