Ravi Jhaveri, MD, comments on the burden of influenza on children, specifically secondary infections and post-flu fatigue.
Ravi Jhaveri, MD: As we think about the burden of seasonal influenza in children, it can be quite varied. We see many, many children who have outpatient fever illnesses, respiratory illnesses, and these…take their impact on families in terms of missed time at work, missed time from school, missed time from daycare, and the need to be with the child [and] support the child while they may be very uncomfortable, have a high fever, [are] not eating and drinking, [have] some mild difficulty breathing. As we move up the ladder, we obviously have many more kids who have severe enough influenza where they require treatment in the outpatient setting. And then we think about the kids who have more severe illness, difficulty breathing, severe dehydration, perhaps other less common complications of influenza, and those kids may need to come to the emergency department or perhaps the [in-patient] hospital. Particularly last year, the burden that we experienced in a severe way was the secondary bacterial infections. When we think about complicated severe pneumonia, head and neck infections, [and] bloodstream infections, at larger pediatric institutions, this is a constant that happens each year where we know that flu drives these bacterial infections. And in particular last year, I think because we had had a lull with flu activity during the COVID[-19] pandemic, we had a resurgence of these types of secondary infections. And so, I think that really is the comprehensive activity. The other thing…is there are many kids who have flu who also have post-flu fatigue. So with COVID[-19], there was obviously a lot of talk about post–COVID[-19], but we’ve had issues with this long before we had COVID-19. And flu and severe flu often causes weeks, sometimes even a few months, of post-illness fatigue or malaise or lack of energy. And so I think we view any and all of these as preventable when we think about recommending [the] flu vaccine for all our patients.
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