As respiratory virus season sets in, we want to thank all of our members, both outpatient and inpatient pediatricians serving Texas children. Thank you for the amazing work that you do to keep Texas children healthy!
In Texas, and nationwide, RSV and flu season are underway, resulting in reports of pediatric hospital bed shortages. As of Wednesday, November 2, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data shows that 90% of Texas pediatric hospital beds are currently occupied.
According to an update from the Texas Hospital Association, Texas hospitals are experiencing surges in patients visiting emergency departments for non-emergency medical conditions, such as mild symptoms and routine testing. The stress on Texas hospitals is exacerbated by continued staff shortages and emergency departments being pushed to capacity with patients coming in for non-emergency medical conditions, resulting in increases in wait times and patient volumes.
Here is some helpful guidance that you can share with patients to help the determine what course of action they need to take.
Advice for parents and families:
- If you (or your child) are experiencing mild symptoms, get a flu test through your pediatrician's office, urgent care, or a public health department.
- Those who are very sick or may be experiencing an emergency medical condition (including one related to flu or RSV) should visit an emergency department.
- People at higher risk of complications or are concerned about their illness should contact their doctor for next steps.
Check out our FAQ sheet for families
The Texas Pediatric Society's RSV Task Force continues to monitor RSV and flu activity in the state. On October 17, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission opened the entire state for Palivizumab (Synagis) prophylaxis. To support the work of the task force, make sure your institution is reporting RSV testing to NREVSS (learn more here). With RSV and flu cases rising, there have already been several pediatric flu-related deaths this year. TPS encourages members to continue to make strong recommendations for flu vaccination for all eligible children starting at 6 months of age, and for mothers who are pregnant or will deliver during the season, to protect infants too young to be vaccinated.
For more information on respiratory illness, treatments, and how to implement infection prevention and control measures, watch the TPS webinar "Respiratory Virus Review: Clinical Considerations and Infection Prevention Guidance".
Thank you for all you do for Texas children! If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Alix Bronner, TPS Public Health Education Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.