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Doctors cautioning parents, children of potential flu-COVID-RSV combo during holiday season

Doctors warning parents, children of potential flu-COVID-RSV combo during holiday season
Doctors warning parents, children of potential flu-COVID-RSV combo during holiday season 02:19

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. -- Medical experts are warning about the 1-2-3 punch of respiratory infections that could soon fill our emergency rooms -- flu, COVID-19, and RSV.

The potential for a tripledemic has doctors reminding people there is still time to get vaccinated for all three.

Nine-year-old Penelope Wood just tested positive for RSV, which she said is like a cold, but only worse.

"I have a fever right now and my throat is kind of hurting and my nose is stuffy," she said.

The highly contagious virus is rampant.

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At Cohen Children's Medical Center, several babies are in intensive care, following the pattern of last year's early and severe season.

"Over the last two weeks, we have seen a major increase in RSV infections, including hospitalizations, such that it's nearly filling up the children's hospital already," said Dr. Lorry Rubin, chief of pediatric infectious diseases.

Doctors say there is no flu yet locally, but it's on the horizon, and with COVID numbers steady, Northwell Health doctors warn all three could converge just in time for Thanksgiving.

There is now a three-in-one test that can be done at home. Northwell Labs has rolled out "Labfly," a concierge at-home swab test with one-day results.

READ MORECOVID, flu and RSV: Expert advice for protecting yourself as virus season approaches

Prevention comes first. Doctors recommend what they call the highly effective flu vaccine this year, plus the new COVID vaccine, even for children.

"Think of it as more of an insurance policy. You wouldn't have your child or adolescent be in the car without a seatbelt even," Rubin said.

The newly available RSV vaccine is recommended for pregnant women to protect the newborn, and others.

"It is new and that is the reason it's not widely known at this point. It is recommend for people over the age of 60 and benefit increase for those with more advanced age and underlying medical conditions," said Dr. David Hirschwerk, medical director of North Shore University Hospital.

READ MOREIn new effort to reset flu shot expectations, CDC to avoid messages that "could be seen as a scare tactic"

But to complicate matters, a new monoclonal antibody shot recommended for infants is so much in demand, there's a shortage and may not be fully available until next season.

Penelope, who is also battling leukemia, will be admitted to the hospital as a precaution to treat the RSV, but doctors warn some of the most severe cases of all of three infections are in previously healthy kids.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost all children will have had RSV by their second birthday. 

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