The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning and alerted healthcare providers to the „urgent need“ to improve vaccination coverage for respiratory diseases in light of an increase in cases across the United States.
„In the past four weeks, hospital admissions for influenza have increased by 200% in all age groups, COVID-19 by 51%, and RSV by 60%,“ the CDC said in a press release.
The warning comes following reports of an uptick in respiratory illnesses in children, including 12 pediatric deaths from the flu and 30 cases of MIS-C (a rare, severe COVID-related complication causing inflammation of vital organs).
Low vaccination rates against influenza, COVID-19, and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), along with a rise in respiratory illnesses, could pose a potential burden on the healthcare system, the agency warned.
The CDC „is issuing this health alert through the Health Alert Network (HAN) to make healthcare providers aware of low vaccination rates against influenza, COVID-19, and RSV. Low vaccination rates coupled with ongoing increases in national and international respiratory illnesses.“ „Activity caused by multiple pathogens, including influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19), and RSV, could lead to more severe illnesses and an increased strain on healthcare capacity in the coming weeks,“ the press release stated.
Compared to the same time last year, vaccination rates against seasonal flu have declined in all age groups – 7.4 million fewer flu vaccine doses were administered this year. Vaccination rates for COVID-19 were low – 7.7% in children (6 months to 17 years), 17.2% in adults, and 9.6% in pregnant women (as of December 2). Additionally, only 15.9% of eligible adults received the RSV vaccine.
Health authorities attribute the low vaccination rate to a lack of recommendations from healthcare providers, concerns about potential side effects, the occurrence of mild side effects, as well as time constraints or forgetfulness.
The CDC recommends healthcare providers administer vaccines to prevent hospitalizations and illness-related deaths. It is especially important for people who are prone to developing severe illnesses, including infants, older adults, pregnant women, and individuals with underlying health conditions.
Which vaccinations are recommended?
Flu vaccination – Everyone 6 months and older should receive a flu vaccine every season, with rare exceptions for people with severe, life-threatening allergies to the vaccine’s ingredients.
COVID-19 vaccine – CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccinations for all individuals 6 months and older. It is safe to receive the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.
RSV vaccine – Recommended for adults aged 60 and older and pregnant women between the 32nd and 36th weeks of pregnancy. Babies under eight months born during or entering their first RSV season are recommended to receive an RSV vaccine – Nirsevimab (Beyfortus).