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CDC Urges Precautions to Protect Against RSV

November 07, 2022

The CDC has issued a new advisory to health care providers about the early increase in cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and its potential to strain hospitals across the U.S.

The agency is tracking the earlier-than-usual arrival of RSV, and the potential for a “tridemic” of COVID-19, RSV, and the flu.

“This early increase in (RSV) disease incidence highlights the importance of optimizing respiratory virus prevention and treatment measures, including prompt vaccination and antiviral treatment,” the agency noted.

In Pennsylvania, the early surge in RSV—particularly among young children—is already straining hospitals, with many pediatric units at or nearing capacity. Flu cases in the state are higher than previous seasons, but COVID-19 remains far below year-ago levels.

The CDC advisory highlights the following key points for the health care community:

  • COVID-19 and flu vaccines:  Providers should recommend and administer these vaccines to all eligible people 6 months and older as soon as possible. This is the best way to reduce the chance of severe illness this winter.
  • Testing guide:  Diagnostic testing is an important tool to help guide treatment, particularly for those who are higher risk for severe outcomes.
  • Antivirals for flu:  The CDC recommends early antiviral treatment for confirmed or suspected cases of the flu in patients who are hospitalized, have a high risk for complications, or are experiencing severe illness.
    • The clinical benefit is greatest when the treatments are administered as soon as possible after onset of illness
  • COVID-19 treatment:  COVID-19 antiviral treatments can help prevent severe outcomes when administered quickly after diagnosis to eligible individuals.
  • Education:  Providers can help patients understand their risk for RSV, COVID-19, and the flu.

“Only about half of the U.S. population receives an annual influenza vaccine for various reasons, including misinformation about vaccination,” the CDC said.

HAP joins the CDC to strongly recommend everyone who is eligible receive their COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot. Getting vaccinated is one way you can stay healthy this winter and ensure hospitals have the capacity to care for their communities.

Additionally, HAP has published a toolkit that highlights the strain RSV is placing on hospital emergency departments and the importance of COVID-19 and flu vaccinations. The communications toolkit includes key messages, social media assets, and other resources and is available online.

Additional information about RSV, including resources for health care professionals, is available online.