Local health leaders say they stay away from Thanksgiving gatherings when sick

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) — Children’s of Alabama officials said their ER is full of kids battling flu and RSV symptoms. Local pediatricians are asking you to avoid Thanksgiving gatherings if your kids are sick.

Alabama Hospital Association officials said 220 people had been hospitalized with the flu as of Nov. 22. Dr. Don Williamson said flu and RSV can be dangerous and even deadly for people over 65 and young children.

Jefferson County health leaders say to calm down the flu and RSV case, those who are sick should skip Thanksgiving events.

“We have very high rates of flu and RSV,” said Dr. Khalilah Brown, the medical director of Jefferson County Child Health. “We’re seeing it affect more children this year, which is impacting our ERs as well. Our local ERs are very full right now.”

Brown said that because Children’s of Alabama is the only large-scale children’s hospital in the state, they usually fill up in the winter, but this number of patients is earlier than normal. She worries that Thanksgiving gatherings could cause more hospitalizations and cases.

“Usually we see an increase in respiratory illnesses after the holidays where families get together, so that’s a concern that we’ll be watching for,” Brown said. “If your child has a fever, if they have body aches, if they have a bad cough, if they have a sore throat that goes beyond drainage or a sore throat from an allergy, those are all things you should have checked before going to a Thanksgiving meeting is going.”

She said the goal is to celebrate safely and not spread disease when kids go back to class. She said it will help to vaccinate them against the flu before they go back to school.

“We want them to have a nice holiday and be able to go to school disease-free so they don’t spread it to other classes,” Brown said.

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