Massachusetts Medical Society: Three Massachusetts physician groups raise concern about RSV, urge preventive measures

Three Massachusetts physician groups raise concern about RSV, urge preventive measures

Physicians across Massachusetts are seeing in their patient encounters an unusual increase in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), especially in children, that is causing severe illness and stretching capacity in emergency departments and hospitals.

Our level of concern has been elevated to the point at which we are compelled to share and recommend mitigation measures that can help to prevent illness. This will not only lessen the burden on our over-stressed health care system, which is especially important as we approach the holiday season, but will also reduce interruptions to in-person learning and other children’s activities that can result from outbreaks caused by viral infections.

First, it is critical and safe to vaccinate all children who are over 6 months of age against influenza and COVID-19. Children over the age of 5 who have received their primary COVID-19 vaccinations should receive a booster. Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can safely and effectively be given at the same time.

Practice frequent hand hygiene, using soap and water, and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Do not use your hand. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home on a regular basis.

If your young child or adolescent is sick or is displaying symptoms of illness – fever, cough, difficulty breathing, congestion, runny nose, sore throat – do not send them to school, daycare, or social gatherings until they are fever-free for 24-hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. Anyone gathering in crowded indoor spaces, including children who are symptomatic, should consider wearing a mask.

If you think your child needs medical care, please contact your pediatrician or health care provider, who can advise as to whether your child should be seen, and which health care setting would best be able to care for the sick child.

-Theodore A. Calianos, II, MD, FACS, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

-Emily Chin, MD, MPH, FAAFP, President Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians

-Mary Beth Miotto, MD, MPH, President, Massachusetts Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

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