Dear HUUSD Community,
The Harwood Unified Union School District continues to carefully review all COVID-19 guidance from the Vermont Department of Health. In addition, the district seeks information from medical experts from around Vermont to inform district practices.
Recently, our school nurse team was in contact with Dr. Rebecca Bell (UVM pediatric critical care physician and President, VT Chapter--American Academy of Pediatrics). She will be holding a Facebook live event this Thursday at 7PM to share with parents across Vermont some of the best ways to keep children safe as well as when to seek care. Here is a link to the program http://fb.me/e/2f9XNZki1 if you are interested in listening to her presentation.
Dr. Bell provided the following information to assist the HUUSD nurse team in answering questions regarding respiratory illnesses this fall/winter:
- There was a lot of focus on COVID (for good reason) but at this point in the pandemic with vaccines and other treatments, it is not causing severe illness in the way, say respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), is in children right now. Or influenza might. Regardless of what the underlying virus is, we should be focusing on treating symptoms, staying home early in the illness to reduce transmission to others, and seeking care when needed.
- RSV is spread mostly through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of infected individuals, so good hand washing is more important now than ever. Although RSV is not airborne in the way COVID is, masking can help as an additional barrier.
- The number of hospital admissions of pediatric respiratory viral illness at UVMMC is higher than normal for this time of year -- the number is close to what is seen in a typical winter peak.
- The viruses causing these illnesses in children right now are RSV, rhinovirus, and in some cases influenza. UVMMC is not currently experiencing pediatric COVID cases in the hospital.
- There's no special treatment for RSV so there's no need to get your child tested if they are otherwise doing ok. Many viruses cause illness in kids and the most important thing to watch for is to make sure they are feeding and breathing ok.
WHAT CAN FAMILIES DO?
Stay up-to-date with your vaccines. Both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same visit.
You are up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccines when you have received all doses in the primary series and all boosters recommended for you, when eligible.
The CDC recommends:
- COVID-19 primary series vaccines for everyone ages 6 months and older.
- Updated (bivalent) boosters for everyone ages 5 years and older who completed their primary COVID-19 vaccine series or received their last booster or additional dose at least two months ago.
- Novavax boosters (monovalent) are also an option for people ages 18 and older who are unable or unwilling to get an updated (bivalent) booster. Note: Novavax is not currently available at our walk-in clinics, but you can ask your Primary Care Provider, and it can be found at many health clinics around the state.
To find a Walk-In Clinic, please use this link for location, date and time. Things to consider when locating a vaccination clinic:
- Flu shots for ages 6 months to 64 years
- Updated (bivalent) boosters for ages 12+, look for Pfizer Bivalent Booster 12+ or Moderna Bivalent Booster 18+
- For ages 12-17, look for clinics that offer the Pfizer vaccine and bring a parent or guardian with you
- For children ages 5-11, look for a clinic that offers Pfizer (ages 5-11)
- For children ages 6 months – 5 years, look for a clinic that offers Moderna (under age 6) or Pfizer (under age 5)
In the meantime, the district continues to update information regarding when to keep your child home when they are not feeling well. The most current information can be found at the district website. If you have specific questions, we encourage you to reach out to your child’s school nurse.