A list of “tips for protecting your kids” that was shown on NBC News on Monday included the suggestion that children should “avoid interaction with unvaccinated individuals.”
The tip sheet was shown in a segment where anchors Morgan Radford and Vicky Nguyen were joined by NBC’s medical advisor Dr. John Torres. With respiratory illnesses like RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, on the rise this year, child safety is a common concern for parents. Many in the medical field are concerned that we will soon see an uptick of flu and coronavirus cases as the weather grows colder.
Radford reported that “75% of all pediatric beds across the country are already at full capacity as of upticks in COVID and RSV, and in the flu.” Although it should be noted that it’s reportedly typical for hospitals to aim at an 85-90% occupancy rate, so this number on its own isn’t abnormally alarming.
While Torres was speaking, the show displayed the list which included the suggestions of washing hands, receiving the flu and coronavirus vaccines, staying home if feeling unwell, and lastly, avoiding contact with the unvaccinated.
Torres advised that parents avoid “passing around” their child to people they don’t know very well this holiday season but did not directly advise that unvaccinated individuals should be avoided.
“The main thing is, number one, those who can get vaccinated against COVID and flu are vaccinated. It’s still time to get it even though Thanksgiving is a week and a half away. You can still get and give some protection. On top of that, if you’re around other family members, make sure people wash their hands. Stay home if you’re sick. You can’t overemphasize that. If you’re around people that you don’t really know that well, the old days of last year, passing around the child and everybody wants to hug and kiss the child, I’d avoid that this year or at least make sure people wash their hands,” Torres said.
Radford then joked about asking family members to receive tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine before they gather for the holidays.”You are speaking my language. My husband literally sent an email to all the grandparents last night being like ‘Hey you guys mind getting your Tdap vaccine? Do you mind?’”
“There’s nothing wrong with doing that. That’s perfectly acceptable,” Torres replied.
Medical experts do strongly recommend adults receive the TDAP vaccine if they plan on being around infants and children for any prolonged period of time.
The segment warned of a potential “tripledemic” this winter referring to the spread of RSV, coronavirus, and influenza. NBC News may have advocated against interacting with the unvaccinated but Dr. Anthony Fauci has said otherwise. Fauci admitted in July that the COVID vaccines do not protect “overly well” from infection, and a recent study shows that the vaccine does not excel at preventing transmission either.
RSV remains the largest immediate threat to children’s health, and many believe that COVID-prevention measures have led to the surge in cases. While children were forced to isolate, their immune systems were not exposed to the plethora of pathogens they would have been typical, causing adverse reactions by the time they are infected with the disease.
“Most children, by the time they were two years of age, had at least one episode of RSV infection, which helped them build immunity,” said Dr. Hossein Sadeghi in a recent article, an associate professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “That changed with pandemic precautions and isolations in the past few years.”
There are currently no vaccines to prevent infection of RSV. The CDC recommends hand washing, avoiding close contact such as hugging and kissing, and cleaning commonly used surfaces.
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