Lexington physicians offer advice on protecting against respiratory illnesses during the holidays
As respiratory viruses surge, Lexington physicians on Monday urged Kentuckians to protect themselves and others this holiday season by getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19, staying home if you feel sick and masking and social distancing when possible.
During a briefing for media, Dr. Gena Cooper, medical director for pediatric emergency medicine at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, said there is no vaccine for RSV or respiratory syncytial virus, which is most serious in children.
Kentucky’s Children’s Hospital has opened an overflow unit for pediatric inpatients.
Children can and should be vaccinated against influenza; Cooper said this year’s vaccine seems a good match for the flu that is infecting children in Central and Eastern Kentucky.
Despite its effectiveness, especially among those older than 65, relatively few people are seeking the bivalent booster against COVID-19, which protects against both the original virus and the Omicron variant, said Dr. Dan Goulson, chief medical officer for CHI St. Joseph Health.
Two recent studies show the effectiveness of the latest COVID-19 vaccine in protecting against severe illness requiring hospitalization, he said, adding that it’s not too late to get the booster and gain some protection during the holidays.
Lexington hospitals report they are nearing full capacity and request that when appropriate patients seek care from their primary care physicians or urgent treatment centers. If you know you need emergency department care, go early in the day, recommended Dr. Mark Spanier, chief of emergency medicine at Baptist Health Lexington.
He urged special awareness of protecting people older than 65 from exposure to respiratory viruses; such infections in the elderly may present as unusual weakness. Elders experiencing such weakness should seek testing for flu and COVID-19, he said.
University of Kentucky retail pharmacies are offering one-stop testing and treatment for COVID-19, flu and strep.
Wild Health also offers testing and treatment.
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