Your Health Matters


What's behind a nationwide surge in kids getting sick?

Sick Kids
Posted at 9:01 AM, Nov 03, 2022

BOSTON, Mass. — Pediatricians nationwide are seeing an unprecedented and early surge in the number of kids getting sick this year, leaving many parents concerned about a possible prolonged cold and flu season.

Shelley Orman lives in Baltimore and knows there will inevitably be days when someone in her family of three gets sick. So far, this year, Orman's 2-year-old daughter, Sophie, has only come down with a few minor colds. But with another baby on the way, though, the health of her family is top of mind.

"I feel like we just got rid of the sniffles and the cough; I’m waiting for the next one," Orman said.

"We are having what can best be described as an unprecedented respiratory surge," said Dr. Jack Maypole, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center.

Like countless others nationwide, Dr. Maypole is seeing an incredible uptick in kids coming in with the flu, RSV, COVID, the common cold, and other respiratory viruses you may not have heard of like HMPV.

"It's the pandemic equivalent for children, absolutely flooding the zone," Dr. Maypole said.

As for why this is all hitting right now and so early? Many pediatricians point back to the height of the pandemic when so many young kids were separated from school or day care.

"We accrued a bunch of kids who were less exposed to viruses, and there you have a recipe for all of these viruses to come back and are spreading among kids at a strange time of year like wildfire," he noted.

Dr. William Schaffner, one of the country's leading infectious disease experts, is also worried that the current surge in children getting sick could lead to a longer cold and flu season.

"We are concerned that this may be a large and prolonged season, but we hope it will peak early and then abate," Dr. Schaffner said.

Dr. Schaffner's biggest recommendation to parents right now:

  • Get kids vaccinated for the flu
  • Get kids vaccinated for COVID if they're eligible
  • Continue to push your kids on the importance of washing your hands