University Health shares respiratory disease rates as CDC issues warning about low immunizations

Low vaccination rates and an increase in respiratory diseases could strain health care system, CDC says

SAN ANTONIO – University Health officials on Monday shared information about patterns of respiratory illness they’re seeing in local hospitals and clinics. That spike in cases comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory for health care providers about low immunization rates.

The CDC on Friday issued an alert about the need to boost vaccination coverage amid increasing levels of respiratory disease.

The CDC is concerned that low vaccination rates coupled with an increase in respiratory diseases like SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and RSV could put a strain on the health care system in the coming weeks.

“Healthcare providers should administer influenza, COVID-19, and RSV immunizations now to patients, if recommended. Healthcare providers should recommend antiviral medications for influenza and COVID-19 for all eligible patients, especially patients at high risk of progression to severe disease such as older adults and people with certain underlying medical conditions,” the CDC alert stated.

A spokesperson with University Health said their hospital system is seeing a slight dip in RSV rates while flu and COVID rates are on the rise.

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University Health data shows the rates for RSV, flu and COVID among its hospitals and clinics. (University Health)

The CDC said more than seven million fewer adults have gotten their flu shot so far this season compared to last year. COVID vaccinations are also low.

There has been a recent increase in cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, also known as MIS-C, following COVID-19 illnesses in children. MIS-C is a rare complication that typically occurs about a month after a SARS-CoV2 infection, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months should receive a seasonal influenza vaccine and at least one dose of the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. Adults 60 years and older may receive one dose of RSV vaccine. Infants and pregnant women should also get the RSV vaccination.

“Vaccines for everyone eligible help protect them and everyone else, lowering the amount of illness in the community overall and reducing each individual’s risk for getting sick and spreading it further,” said Elizabeth Allen, communications director for University Health.

The CDC urged people to talk to their healthcare provider about recommended immunizations and to “be aware of everyday prevention measures including covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands, staying home when sick, wearing a well-fitting mask if you choose to wear a mask, and improving airflow at home or at work.”

About the Author

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

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