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Record number of parents take off work amid "tripledemic"

Employees taking off work for sick kids
Record number of employees taking off work for sick kids 04:31

The U.S. is facing a "tripledemic" with cases of the flu, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) rising simultaneously as winter approaches. 

Increasing cases of the three viruses are causing a record number of parents to miss days of work in order to take care of their sick children, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows

Last month, 104,000 workers didn't show up because they had child care issues, according to the data. 

"We've seen a big spike in RSV, in flu, COVID has yet to really hit this season. And a lot of kids are getting really sick," Dr. Celine Gounder told CBS News.

Parents with sick kids at home must then figure out how to take care of them. 

"If you can't send your child to school, a lot of parents are stuck having to stay home with their child and that really takes a hit on people's pocketbooks," Dr. Gounder added. 

Employees who have to physically show up for work as well as those whose employers don't provide paid sick leave suffer the most. Numbers of parents taking time off from work to care for sick children are only expected to increase as flu season intensifies and winter weather rolls in, public health officials say. 

"We're getting sicker"

Parents with no other options may end up sending their children to child care even with they're sick. "This is very common and unfortunately what it does is it promotes more spread of the virus in the community," Dr. Gounder said. "We're all getting sicker." 

Her advice to parents and children? 

"If you're sick, stay home if you can afford to. That's definitely one of the most important things. If somebody else in your child's play group, for example, is sick, you might want to be cancelling some of those play dates," she said.

The pandemic has also introduced a new tool for preventing the spread of illnesses: face masks. 

"I think we would benefit [from wearing them.] Whether people are willing to do it, I don't know," Dr. Gounder said. 

And everyone who is eligible should get vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19, she added. 

"That's a really good solution to prevent some of these [illnesses], is to get your kid vaccinated for the flu, for COVID. You can at least prevent those two if not RSV," Dr. Gounder said. 

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