Newborns, infants susceptible to RSV can be protected by maternal vaccine, Dr. Permar says

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Thursday, November 3, 2022
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Pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Sallie Permar talks about the latest developments in the RSV crisis.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The winter months are quickly approaching and with the seasons changing, doctors are seeing a rise in the number of children with RSV.

Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian Chair of Pediatrics Dr. Sally Permar told Eyewitness News about the many ways parents can help their young children fight off respiratory infections, as well as the flu and COVID-19.

"A maternal vaccination worked well to prevent hospitalization of children with RSV. That's exciting news as pediatricians because this is a virus that we see affecting our newborns, young infants, every year and it's one of the major reasons for hospitalizations, Dr. Permar said.

In terms of the volume of RSV cases in NYC hospitals, medical professionals have their hands full.

Dr. Permar says this is the first time in the last few years that hospitals have had to deal with such high numbers of pediatric patients, as COVID-19 did not affect children as severely as it did adults.

Local hospitals are working to handle the number of respiratory cases, in ways like increasing the number of beds available and recruiting more staff members.

"The recommendation is to make sure you're up to date for your 'Tdap', for your flu vaccine, and for your COVID vaccine, as well", Dr. Permar said.

One strategy she mentioned for parents was to "cocoon" their infants by surrounding them with adults who are all up to date with their vaccines.

Dr. Permar suggests that, aside from getting vaccinated, hand-washing and wearing a mask are great options in protecting children from germs.

If your child has symptoms like fast breathing, the inability to eat or drink, or has not urinated in six to eight hours, these are signs that the child may have a respiratory infection that requires higher-level care.

Dr. Permar says that the child's pediatrician should be able to distinguish whether hospitalization is necessary, or if at-home care is enough to nurse them back to health.

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