Pandemic Side Effect: Colds and Flu Have Almost Disappeared

Pediatricians see it every day

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Who do you know who has had a cold in the past 12 months?

Anecdotally, many of us have noticed a big drop in the number of people coming down with colds or the flu, and it turns out, it’s not just observational, it’s real.

Last year, the flu killed 188 children nationwide. This flu season, only one child has died from flu in the United States, and pediatricians are seeing this pandemic side effect in their offices.  

“In the pandemic, we’ve seen much, much less viruses, common colds, influenza, I’ve actually not seen any influenza this year,” said Dr. Bianca Soto, a pediatrician who practices in Coral Gables and Doral. 

“We have seen very few other viral illnesses over this last year,” said Dr. Ronald Ford, the chief medical officer at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. “We’ve virtually eliminated influenza from children in the area, there have been a small number of other minor respiratory, cold-like viruses that have surfaced from time to time, but nothing compared to what we normally see in the cold and flu season.”

If healthier kids is the effect, doctors say this is the cause: more hand washing, social distancing in school, and everyone wearing masks, habits which they hope people will continue to practice. 

“We want to get back to normal again so we have to do what we can, it’s a little inconvenient but it’s for the better good,” said Dr. Soto. 

“Absolutely, masking works, it was completely effective in reducing not only the instance of covid but all these other respiratory viruses that are generally so prevalent in the winter months,” Dr. Ford added. 

And doctors have another message for parents: don’t let the pandemic prevent you from bringing your kids in to see a pediatrician, either for a general checkup or for whatever problems they might have.

“It’s really important to get across, we want all patients coming back for their checkups or if you have a concern about your child as well, don’t let something go just because of the pandemic,” Dr. Soto said. 

That holds true for adults as well, don’t put off going to the doctor if you need to see one. 

One final word from the pediatricians: as soon as your child is old enough to be vaccinated against COVID-19, they absolutely recommend getting the shots.

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