Maryland Department of Health launches RSV Resource Webpage, Urges Marylanders to Take Precautions, Get Flu and COVID Vaccines

by Patrick Herron

Per the State of Maryland: The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today launched a new webpage with resources about respiratory virus infections spreading rapidly this fall and steps Marylanders can take to protect themselves. The move follows Governor Hogan’s announcement about statewide preparedness efforts to address an increase in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and potential COVID-19 and flu surges.

The state has seen an early surge of severe respiratory illness, especially in very young and school-age children. Many children with RSV or other respiratory illnesses will experience cold-like symptoms, such as runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, and fever, that get better within a week or two. However, infants, people who are immunocompromised, and people living with certain chronic medical conditions may experience severe illness that can cause difficulty breathing and hospitalization. Contact your healthcare provider if you or your child is having difficulty breathing, not drinking enough fluids, or experiencing worsening symptoms.

There is no specific treatment for RSV. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer these steps to relieve symptoms:

  • Manage fever and pain with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. (Never give aspirin to children.)

  • Drink enough fluids. It is important for people with RSV infection to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids).

  • Talk to your healthcare provider before giving your child non-prescription cold medicines. Some medicines contain ingredients that are not good for children.

“Most people who get a respiratory illness, including infants and other children, can be diagnosed and treated by a healthcare provider without a trip to the emergency room,” said MDH Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services Dr. Jinlene Chan. “Discussing your or your child’s symptoms with your healthcare provider first may be a good way to receive medical care and avoid an unnecessary trip to the emergency room.” MDH encourages Marylanders to take preventive steps to be COVIDReady and reduce their risk of getting COVID, the flu and other respiratory illnesses.

To reduce the risk of spreading a respiratory virus, Marylanders are urged to:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes using a tissue or your upper sleeve, not your hands.

  • Stay home if you or your child is sick, except to get medical care.

  • Don’t send a sick child to school or child care.

  • Consider wearing a mask, especially if you develop any symptoms, such as a runny nose, cough, or fever.

  • Get a COVID-19 booster and flu shot. Find a vaccination clinic.

Children under the age of 5 are especially vulnerable to developing serious complications from the flu, while older children can spread flu to their higher-risk family members. For this reason, the Maryland Department of Health recommends that all children over 6 months of age receive the influenza vaccine in early fall every year.

The new bivalent COVID-19 booster is now available and safe for all Maryland children, ages 5 and over who have completed their primary series or most recent booster at least two months ago; it offers protection against the original COVID-19 strain and the Omicron variant.  It is safe and effective to receive the influenza vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine on the same day.  To find an influenza or a COVID-19 vaccine:
To find a vaccination site, visit covidVAX.maryland.gov or call 1-855-MD-GOVAX (855-634-6829).
For more information about COVID-19 in Maryland visit covidLINK.maryland.gov.
For information on flu vaccines for children visit CDC.gov.

 

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