CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Flu cases are on the rise among kids in the Charlotte area, as hospitals across the country deal with three respiratory illnesses at once: flu, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and COVID-19.
Doctors with Atrium Health say they’re now seeing more kids in local hospitals test positive for the flu. Pediatricians say it’s an early surge in the flu season, since they typically don’t see this many flu cases until December or January.
According to the NCDHHS, hospitals in NC reported nearly 900 positive flu tests from Oct. 16 through Oct. 22.
It comes as pediatric hospitals are already stretched thin due to a surge in RSV cases. Doctors say it’s a virus they see every year, but have seen an unusually high amount of cases much earlier than usual this year.
Doctors say the best way to keep kids safe is to make sure they are fully vaccinated against both flu and COVID-19.
“Why is it important to get vaccinated? It reduces sickness, decreases medical visits and decreases hospitalizations, as well as decrease deaths,” Dr. Nandita Singh with Atrium Health Pediatrics said on Thursday.
Doctors say the reason flu and RSV cases are surging earlier this year is because COVID-19 precautions, like masking and social distancing, have protected people the last two years. Now that those protections are no longer in place, doctors say germs spread easier and people are more susceptible to illness.
WCCB asked Atrium Health if local hospitals are nearing capacity. A spokesperson sent the following statement:
“The number of beds filled throughout the hospital changes frequently, especially as we regularly have high needs patients receiving specialty care that only we can provide. Our priority has and always will be to provide whatever method of care is required to best and safely care for our patients.”