First pediatric flu death of the Arizona 2022 season; doctors warn against RSV, COVID too

Doctors are sounding the alarm about a trio of viruses affecting kids after Arizona's first pediatric flu death.
Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 5:47 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — While loved ones gather today to celebrate the holiday, Arizona doctors warn of rapidly spreading viruses. Arizona had its first pediatric flu death of the 2022 season this week. Some are worried about a tripledemic. A combination of flu, RSV, and COVID-19 is spreading this season and doctors are saying parents need to stay vigilant and up their preventative measures. “Every year we do unfortunately have flu deaths,” said Dr. Gary Kirkilas with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Doctors are sounding alarm bells, saying it’s not just one virus parents need to watch for this year, but three. “These viruses, COVID, RSV, influenza are unfortunately a regular part of our season now,” said Kirkilas.

He says that cases of these viruses are rapidly surging in Arizona hospitals. “For the most part the children that get them will have mild symptoms. They’ll have a runny nose, cough, and fever,” Kirkilas said.

While most children do recover, it’s not an easy road for other children. “But unfortunately, there’s always a smaller subset that requires hospitalization. It’s usually younger children less than 2 or especially less than 1. But, it can happen to any child really. Fortunately, it’s a smaller subset that requires hospitalization and an even smaller subset that will pass as a result of these infections,” said Kirkilas.

“If RSV is around, it’s really hard to avoid,” said Will Humble with the Arizona Public Health Administration. He added while RSV may not be preventable, COVID-19 and the flu are. “Simply get your kid vaccinated. This is one of the most frustrating things I have seen in my entire career. To watch COVID-19 have another wave, to have a brand new vaccine that is targeted towards the new variants of the virus, and then to find out that only 11% of Arizonans have gotten that vaccine,” Humble said.

He says both vaccines are readily available at local pharmacies and pediatricians’ offices. “It may save a loved ones’ life or your own,” said Humble. Doctors also say to wash hands thoroughly and regularly clean toys and surfaces.