Healthy Living: Children's immune systems post-pandemic

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Things may be returning to normal after the coronavirus pandemic, but how will children's immune systems respond to the reopening?

Amid masking, social distancing, and hand-washing, doctors say the pandemic also resulted in a drop in routine care.

"I think the biggest thing now that makes us nervous and we’re trying to scramble for is really trying to catch up all the kids on their vaccines," said Ascension All Saints Chair of Pediatrics Dr. Margaret Hennessy.

As cases of COVID-19 rose and restrictions kept us home, many children went without regular exposure to daycare, school, and even playdates.

"We are coming back together .... And the worry is that we’re going to spread other diseases that are vaccine-preventable."

Some that come to mind for Dr. Hennessy include tetanus, meningitis, HPV, and measles.

"It’s so contagious, that if I had measles in one part of my building, through the air ducts, it could spread to the entire building .... If we let pockets go unvaccinated, we’re gonna see these diseases come back."

She also warns about an unexpected trend that doctors are seeing with RSV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus. It typically presents in the winter month, but Dr. Hennessy says it's on the rise in southern states.

"We’ve never been through this before, so we have no playbook," she said.

RSV can be associated with severe disease in young children and older adults. There is no vaccine for the virus, but Dr. Hennessy says physicians are keeping an eye on the potential for it to move north.

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