Cold, Flu, RSV and COVID Seasons Bring Challenges for Parents and Schools
It’s cold and flu season — and COVID is still around.
Parents can now add RSV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, to their list of concerns.
There are vaccines for the flu and COVID, but not for the common cold or RSV, but an RSV vaccine is in development.
Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services will offer a COVID-19 and flu vaccine for children ages 6 months to 18 who are afraid of needles and vaccines Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Conduct a comfort clinic for immunizations. The Vaccine Clinic is located in the Health Department at 1005 W. Worley St. Reservations are required.
The vaccine will be in a sensory environment, said Health Department spokesman Ryan Sheehan. Quiet and soothing music is also available. Children also have access to sensory tools such as fidget spinners.
COVID and flu vaccines for children at public health centers are free and do not require ID or health insurance, but parental consent is required.
The first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for ages 6 months to 18 years. Updated Pfizer booster doses are also available for ages 5-15. A single dose is recommended at least 2 months after the previous primary or booster vaccination.
Immunizations are the best way to protect children from the flu and COVID-19, Sheehan said, but there are other steps parents can take to protect their children from colds and respiratory syncytial virus.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid contact with mouth and eyes.
- Leave your child at home when sick.
Sheehan avoided any political questions about whether masks would help when parents and children need them, only stating it was a family choice.
The Department of Health is finishing flu shots at all Boone County schools on Friday, Sheehan said.
Michelle Baumsterk, spokeswoman for Columbia Public Schools, said not many students or teachers were absent due to illness.
“We are still in a good position at CPS when it comes to disease,” Baumstark said in an email. However, we do not see numbers that exceed the normal for this time of year.”
Sixteen students were out with COVID-19 on Monday, she wrote.
Noelle Gilzow, president of the CPS Teachers Union, also reported some absences throughout the school district, but nothing has been widely reported.
The University of Missouri Hospital is accepting some RSV patients, spokesman Eric Maze said.
Boone Hospital has several RSV patients, spokesman Benjamin Cornelius said.
In a video interview conducted by MU Health Care, MU pediatrician Christopher Wilhelm says children under six months old or those with heart or lung problems are most at risk of RSV. Nasal congestion can get worse and cough worse.
“What we really care about is the baby,” Wilhelm said.
He said he usually sees RSV cases from January to March.
“This year came early,” said Wilhelm, from October.
Nasal discharge can be removed with a bulb syringe if the baby is at home, he said.
“The main spread of the disease is in nursery schools and schools,” Wilhelm said. “If your child shows symptoms of RSV, flu, or COVID, please stay home.”
Roger McKinney is an educational reporter for the Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com or 573-815-1719. He is on his Twitter at @rmckinney9.