ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The start of this flu and cold season has kept pediatricians in Monroe County the busiest they’ve ever been in their practice, and they believe it’s only going to get worse.

Respiratory Viruses are more serious in young children whose immune systems have still not adapted to handle a flu season, after two years of fighting COVID-19. Doctors want parents to know the symptoms to be on the lookout for and go back to practicing what was done during the pandemic. 

So far this winter, Dr. Edward Lewis has seen about 30 patients a day. Over Thanksgiving weekend, some were hospitalized with RSV. While Genesis Pediatrics has seen double the number of patients they usually get this time of year.  

“I had several hospital admissions for influenza with kids who were not able to drink enough fluids to stay hydrated, of had other symptoms requiring hospitalizations.” Dr. Lewis, a Pediatrician in Brighton told us.

“We’ve seen 850 sick children so far in the last half of this month,” Dr. Goodfellow of Genisis Pediatrics added. “That’s double what we would of normally seen.”  

Research from the New York Department of Health shows Monroe County is in the top five for most influenza cases across the state. Doctors anticipate this trend is going to keep rising, so parents must be on guard.  

“Watch for mostly in the babies are the work of breathing, how much they’re getting fluids in,” Dr. Goodfellow said. “Whether or not they’re having a fever and struggling. See if they get a dry mouth, they’re not eating as well, you see their muscles start to pull in when they try to breathe.”

In times like these, Dr. Lewis advises parents to consider masking their children indoors, especially in crowded spaces. Dr. Goodfellow feels keeping any sick children home and practicing social distancing is more effective. But both agree more efforts must be made to save overcrowded hospitals.  

“I’ve had some kids with RSV this year who I thought were candidates for hospital admission who were not admitted because the pediatric hospital is running at about 120% capacity,” Dr. Lewis explained.

“Multiple children are in rooms that are supposed to be for one person because they don’t have enough space,” Dr. Goodfellow added. “Wait times in the emergency room are roughly 10-12 hours.”  

More than ever, pediatricians recommend getting your child an up-to-date flu vaccine to keep them from developing serious symptoms and out of the hospital. Those vaccines are covered under all insurance plans.  

Research shows that simply having a fever, especially in older children, does not always warrant a visit to the pediatrician. In those cases, it’s best to keep your kids home to rest and take medicine.