The Perfect Enemy | Parents, doctors brace for holiday gatherings and winter amid “triple-demic” threat
December 10, 2022
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BOSTON – In all different communities, the same scary, sleepless nights this fall: worried parents trying to comfort and care for very sick little kids.

“I’m like something is wrong. He was screaming inconsolably. I had to take him to the ER,” said mother Becky Ramirez of her 18-month-old.

In a span of just six weeks, her son was diagnosed with COVID, then an ear infection, followed by RSV. Due to a nationwide shortage of amoxicillin, it took visits to four pharmacies to treat that ear infection.

“My kid’s suffering. What am I supposed to do? I’ve already been out of work. He had a fever of 104,” Ramirez recalled,

Between the ‘triple-demic’ of the flu, COVID, and RSV colliding all at once, pediatricians say this is worst respiratory season of their careers.

“I believe it to be true that kids have been masked for two years and this is really the first fall season we’re not masked, everyone is back together, there’s no keeping people apart, and everyone is getting everything,” said Dr. Robyn Riseberg of Boston Community Pediatrics.

Since the start of the school year, it’s been challenging for many parents to tell when one virus ends and another begins. Jessica Bousquet said it’s been about 12 weeks of illness between her two sons.

“Arguing about who is going to stay home because we’re each missing 1-2 days of work a week,” she explained, of the strain on working parents.

According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more parents missed work due to childcare issues last month, than even during the height of the pandemic.

“We went to urgent care. They did some treatments there. He didn’t respond. They sent us by ambulance to the ER. We were there all night until the morning. I get home at 5 or 6 in the morning and then my other guy said ‘my ear hurts.’ I’m running him to the doctor three hours later,” she recalled.

And with close, indoor holiday gatherings now just a week away, parents and providers are buckling up for what all of winter has in store. 

Dr. Riseberg recommends masking during air travel, bathing or changing kids after school or daycare, and frequent, thorough hand-washing. She encourages her families to be cautious in how young babies and elderly grandparents are exposed over the holiday season.