COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — As Colorado's top health officials release additional details on their plan to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11, Children's Hospital Colorado shares details on diagnoses that are contributing to increased capacity.
One family has witnessed the reality of the situation firsthand.
"My wife and I found ourselves on taking our little guy — he's named Declan. He's four months old — to Children's Colorado with a case of RSV," Preston Goff said.
RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, causes mild, cold-like symptoms. In infants or older adults, the virus can be serious, leading to bronchiolitis or pneumonia.
"It started with just a really gentle cough on a Saturday, but it kind of quickly progressed to a lot of chest and nose congestion and wheezing," Goff said.
Last Monday, Goff and his wife admitted their son to Children's Hospital Colorado in Colorado Springs. He received oxygen via nasal cannula for five days.
Children's Hopsital Colorado said RSV and other factors are leading to more people showing up at the hospital.
"Children’s Hospital Colorado locations are experiencing high patient volumes in our emergency departments, ICUs and inpatient units. We are seeing increases in COVID-19 and RSV diagnoses and hospitalizations, as well as a surge in kids experiencing a mental health crisis," a statement from the hospital system says. "Across our system of care, Children’s Hospital Colorado is at 75% capacity level for our pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) beds, as of Oct. 26. As a reminder, our PICU beds are a subset of the entire beds across our system of care."
Dr. Lalit Bajaj, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, echoed those statistics during a Thursday press briefing. He also urged parents to strongly consider the COVID-19 vaccine for their children ages 5 to 11.
"The vaccine is also going to allow children to play a part in protecting their elderly family members and others around them who may have weakened immune systems from conditions like cancer," Bajaj said.
There's nearly 500,000 kids in the 5 to 11 age group in Colorado, and the state hopes to vaccinate half of them by January.
While Goff's son is too young for the vaccine, he hopes other parents will be mindful of the risks children face.
"We've been kind of changing our habits," Goff said. "I think it's just important as parents to assess the situations you're placing yourself in and your child in."