TUCSON, Ariz. (Oct. 2, 2023) - With school back in full swing and fall weather in sight, upper respiratory and flu season is upon us, and Banner Health doctors are recommending that parents ensure their children’s vaccines are up to date.
Arizona vaccination trends are showing a decrease in the number of children who are up to date on their immunization schedule and that can lead to an increase in preventable diseases such as measles, mumps or rubella, this will also mean an increase in the number of cases of flu, COVID and respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV.
Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent many diseases and will assist the immune system to gain long-term protection from preventable diseases.
“It’s important to stay up to date on all immunizations, including meningitis, tetanus, measles and the updated COVID and flu shots,” said Helene Felman, MD, a pediatrician with Banner Diamond Children's Medical Center and Chair of Pediatrics. “Vaccines not only help to prevent serious infection, hospitalization and death, but they also prevent the spread of illness at home to those who may be immunocompromised, at risk for infection complications and also protect those in our community.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services requires children enrolled in school to have the following vaccines:
- Hepatitis B
- Quadrivalent Meningococcal
Other illnesses that are most seen in the fall/winter include influenza and COVID and there is another virus to be aware of – especially for those with small children: respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
RSV causes cold-like symptoms, such as a cough, runny nose and sometimes a fever. But in some children, it can be much more serious. This year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all infants under 8 months should receive the new preventive antibody, nirsevimab, to prevent RSV.
RSV causes between 58,000-80,000 hospitalizations and 100-300 deaths per year in children under 5 years according to data from CDC. This new long-acting antibody is recommended that infants born shortly before or during RSV season should get 1 dose of the antibody in their first week of life. For other infants and eligible toddlers, nirsevimab should be administered shortly before the start of RSV season, which typically begins in October.
Parents can keep their children healthy with the following recommendations:
- Encourage everyone in the family to get their annual flu shot and COVID booster.
- Practice good handwashing technique: at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water, making sure to get between the fingers, wrists, and fingertips.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze by using a tissue or elbow.
- Sanitize high touch surfaces such as phones, computers/keyboards, iPads.
- Encourage healthy habits such as good sleep hygiene, balanced diet and exercise to boost immune system.
About Banner Children’s – Diamond Children’s Medical Center
Banner Children’s – Diamond Children’s Medical Center provides pediatric care for children, from newborns to teens. Services include emergency care, heart disorders, traumatic brain injury, autism and developmental disorders, cancer, diabetes and endocrinology, gastrointestinal and nutritional disorders, neurological problems, orthopedics, intensive care needs and more. It is the only pediatric medical facility in Arizona connected to an academic research facility — the University of Arizona Steele Children’s Research Center — where physician-scientists provide access to groundbreaking science and research to advance children’s health. For more information, visit bannerhealth.com/diamondchildrens.
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