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Novant Health alert: Pediatric flu, RSV and COVID-19 cases creating a ‘tripledemic’

Tips and reminders for parents and our communities

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Novant Health joins health systems across the country working to support an earlier peak in flu season, coupled with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases and ongoing COVID-19 impacts. These respiratory illnesses are specifically affecting the youngest among us, and Novant Health physicians urge awareness, preparedness and action across our communities to help keep everyone healthy.

Novant Health is seeing increased numbers of hospitalizations due to RSV and influenza-like illnesses across all Novant Health hospitals. While these increases could impact bed capacities, Novant Health has extensive surge planning in place and stands ready to activate, as needed. It’s important for our communities to know that we have the continued ability to care for them, and that they should seek care when they need it.

We strongly encourage preventive measures such as staying home if you are sick; maintaining good respiratory etiquette such as washing your hands and covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing; and, most importantly, getting vaccinated for both flu and COVID-19 to best protect yourself and others. As always, patients should assess their symptoms and seek care at the appropriate location.

Dr. David Priest, Novant Health’s chief safety, quality and epidemiology officer, expects “a very challenging respiratory virus season” for 2022-23 and encourages all who are eligible to get a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine and boosters. There is not currently a vaccine for RSV.

  • To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine or booster: Schedule online or call your primary care physician's office.
  • To schedule a flu shot: Novant Health patients may schedule a shot with their primary care provider online. For those who don’t have a primary care provider, visit a Novant Health walk-in clinic.
    • Children from 6 months to 18 years of age should be vaccinated for seasonal flu each year. If your child is between the ages of 6 months and 9 years, your child may need two doses of vaccine given 21 days apart for the first time only.


Tips and reminders to help parents navigate this ‘tripledemic’

  • Please call or message your child’s primary care provider before going to the emergency department or your child’s clinic. In many cases, your child will be able to receive the care they need without even leaving home.
  • The Novant Health on-demand care team serves pediatric populations with pediatric doctors and advanced practice providers, or APPs, available 24/7 for video visits.
    • This team can order at-home tests for COVID-19, influenza and RSV all in one swab.
  • TytoHome technology is another option that allows Novant Health care teams to complete portions of a physical exam (e.g., lung sounds, pulse ox, temperature) for patients who have these devices.
  • Novant Health GoHealth Urgent Care clinics are available to patients older than six months and appointments may be scheduled online.
  • Novant Health offers after-hours triage and answering services powered by Care Connections, a 24/7 service line: 888-976-4982.
  • The emergency department is available for life-threatening injury or illness.

Tips for parents treating illnesses at home

  • Ask your doctor what you need to do to care for your child at home. Make sure to ask questions if you do not understand what the doctor says. This way you will know what you need to do to care for your child.
  • Have your child drink a lot of fluids, such as water, broth, sports drinks and ice chips. This will keep your child's fluid levels up. This is very important if your child is throwing up, passing liquid stool or less urine, or has no tears when crying.
  • Prioritize rest. Your child needs to rest to get better.
  • Use a machine that makes steam like a vaporizer or humidifier. It may help open up a clogged nose so your child can breathe easier.

When to seek immediate medical attention

  • Look for signs of fluid loss. These include soft spot on a baby's head looks sunken, few or no tears when crying, dark-colored urine or only a small amount of urine for more than 6 to 8 hours, dry mouth, cracked lips, dry skin, sunken eyes, lack of energy, feeling very sleepy.
  • Your child's fever or cough returns, does not go away or gets worse.
  • Throwing up or loose stools continue, and your child can’t keep liquids down.
  • Your child does not want to interact with others, be held or is confused.
  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child is not feeling better, or your child is feeling worse.

We also encourage home COVID-19 testing when possible. Using the care advice above, you can also treat fever and flu at home without needing a test.

Additional resources

Posted on Thursday, November 17, 2022