RSV filling pediatric beds in Utah hospitals as flu season takes hold

UTAH —  Hospitals across the U.S. have seen an increase in hospitalization rates as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu begin to spread, coupled with cold weather, weakening the body’s ability to fight off viruses. In Utah, Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital has seen a rapid rise in children requiring hospitalization with RSV, causing pediatric beds to fill up throughout the state.

Although Flu numbers are currently low in Utah, they are expected to rise in the coming weeks, according to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). There is fear of a wave of COVID-19 causing a so-called “tripledemic” where hospitals are once again overwhelmed with patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have already been two pediatric flu deaths.

Janelle Delgadillo, an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), says, “Flu severity in Utah is low right now, but we have seen a growing trend in residents who seek treatment for flu and flu-like illness. There is no vaccine for RSV, but there are vaccines for the flu and COVID-19. Getting a flu vaccine and being up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to reduce your risk of illness.”

This season’s flu vaccine targets four flu viruses that will likely circulate in Utah and the rest of the country. Flu vaccines are available at many locations as most pharmacies offer the shot and can frequently be free or at a minimal cost.

With no available vaccine for RSV, the DHHS recommends that extra precautions be taken. Preventative efforts such as staying home when sick, washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, and other measures can help reduce the risk of getting sick.

To stay up to date with flu information in Utah, including numbers, see the UHHS website. A search by zip code to find the nearest flu vaccine location can be found on the website.

Park City residents can also visit the Mobile Vaccine Clinic in Prospector on Wednesday, Nov. 16, to get flu and Covid booster shots.

Influenza Virus Infection Timeline
Influenza Virus Infection Timeline; Courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare’s GermWatch

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