With flu season looming, we asked pediatricians to share advice for parents navigating pandemic care

by Amelia Winger, PublicSource

Pediatric COVID-19 cases have risen in Allegheny County since August, with more than 500 cases reported from Sept. 30 through Oct. 6. At the same time, children could face one of the harshest flu seasons in recent history.

“All of the community viruses, particularly community respiratory viruses, that seemed to disappear and hide during those first 12 months of the pandemic have come out to play and cause mischief,” said Dr. Michael Green, medical director for infection prevention at UPMC Children’s Hospital.

As pandemic hospitalizations raise concerns about lengthy wait times, how can parents best seek care for children experiencing either COVID-19 or unrelated health issues? We asked local pediatric experts key questions on navigating the cold and flu season amid

the pandemic.

Besides COVID-19, what are the major health issues we’re seeing among children right now?


Pediatric flu cases are expected to increase this year. Because there were fewer cases last year due to remote learning, children didn’t develop as much immunity, putting them at a greater risk for severe symptoms this year, said Dr. Jennifer Romero, a primary care pediatrician for Allegheny Health Network’s Fox Chapel division.

Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, expressed similar concerns during an Oct. 6 briefing.

“We worry about flu every fall and winter,” Bogen said. “We had a very quiet flu season last year, but this year we are concerned it will be quite high.”

Illnesses like croup, ear infections, strep throat and common colds are beginning to appear, with a notable uptick in cases of respiratory syncytial virus [RSV] since the summer, Romero said. RSV commonly causes mild, cold-like symptoms, and almost all children contract it before the age 2. However, it can lead to severe breathing illnesses and pneumonia for infants, especially those younger than six months old.

Baby visiting the doctor for a checkup (Photo via Adobe Stock)


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