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Mom checking daughter's temperature

RSV, COVID and flu can make children sick; know when to call a doctor

December 1, 2022

Hospitals across the U.S. are seeing an increase in the number of children with respiratory illnesses. It’s important for parents to keep an eye on their children’s symptoms and call their pediatrician if symptoms get bad.

Common viruses that are causing children to get sick this time of year include respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), flu, COVID-19 and the common cold. All of them can cause fever, cough, tiredness, and stuffy or runny nose. The chart shows symptoms that may be different.

Almost all children get RSV at least once before they are 2 years old. For most healthy children, RSV is like a cold, but some children can get very sick.

Call your pediatrician if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • rapid breathing, flaring nostrils, wheezing and grunting;
  • shortness of breath/difficulty breathing;
  • chest caving in with each breath;
  • very ill or drowsy;
  • gray or blue color to tongue, lips or skin;
  • poor feeding;
  • dehydration;
  • vomiting for more than 24 hours;
  • bloody diarrhea or
  • fever
    • above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (F) in any child,
    • above 100.4 degrees F if the child is under 2 months old or
    • above 103 degrees F for more than 24 hours.

Everyone 6 months and older should get flu vaccines each year, and everyone 6 months and older should receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

There is no vaccine for RSV or the common cold, but there are other ways to help stop viruses from spreading:

  • Teach children to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the trash right away.
  • Wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often.
  • Wear a mask in public.
  • Have children stay home from school or child care if they are sick.

For more information on how to protect your family from common viruses, visit For more information and videos on RSV, visit

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