Fewer children are making trips to the hospital this year

Children's Hospital Colorado Springs
Posted at 6:04 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 20:04:48-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — While the number of COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in Southern Colorado, the number of children getting sick this year with viruses like the flu and RSV, is much smaller than years past.

Dr. David Listman, an emergency room doctor at Doctor's Children Hospital - Colorado Springs told News5, "there's never been a year on record where it's been this low."

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, more than 650 kids were hospitalized with the flu last year from 2019-2020. This year, there have been 18 hospitalizations among all age groups in the state.

"It's probably because of social distancing and mask wearing, kids not being in school, kids not being in daycare settings, and just not being around other kids with these common viruses," said Dr. Listman.

Dr. Listman mentioned, because of the high number of COVID-19 cases, the significantly fewer flu and RSV cases were unexpected.

"Last winter it really was a pretty severe flu season. So coming into the winter, we were gearing up for what it's going to be like. We didn't know what to expect," said Dr. Listman.

Fewer viruses were also unexpected for Amanda Walls, who is a mother to two girls, ages five and three. She says her three-year-old daughter used to get sick often until this year.

"In years past, she had at least 10 colds during the winter time," said Walls. "This time, she's only gotten two, and they've been very mild compared to the past winters."

"This winter we kept waiting, and she never got sick like she has in the past two years," said Walls. "As a parent of a chronically sick kid, you always hope that maybe this year will be the year we don't have to go through it."

Cases of RSV, a common virus in children, have also dropped significantly.

Walls also believes these fewer cases, are thanks to extra precautions taken by the community.

"We're making tons of cultural changes. They are wearing masks at her pre-school and everybody is washing their hands a lot more," said Walls. "It has blown my mind and been amazing to see her (my daughter) thrive without sickness."

Dr. Listman says the hospital is seeing an increase in patients getting MIS-C, a rare inflammatory syndrome found in kids, that's related to COVID.

He also mentioned that as COVID-19 restrictions ease, he expects the number of flu cases to return to average numbers next winter.

"It could even be worse next winter, because there's this whole group of young people who haven't developed immunity," said Dr. Listman. "It's going to be really important to get your flu shot, because many kids are not being exposed and developing normal immunities."