With spike in respiratory illnesses, officials urge precautions ahead of flu season

Health officials are urging residents to get flu and COVID booster shots.
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 3:35 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2022 at 4:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is experiencing a spike in respiratory infections as hospitals nationwide also see a high level of cases ― in a situation that’s sparking concern ahead of winter.

State Department of Health officials said Thursday the islands are seeing more infections earlier than expected.

The usual peak for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) season is mid-November into December. But DOH says over the last couple of months, there were more than 2,000 reported cases and many more cases likely going undetected.

Officials say part of the concern is what happens on the mainland typically makes its way to the islands and right now, California is experiencing a spike in influenza and COVID-19 infections.

That’s sparking worry about a winter influx of RSV, flu, and coronavirus across the state.

“The concern right now with our health systems is seeing them all at once,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble. “So whatever we can do to slow down transmission, to take extra care precautions to wash our hands, cover our coughs, stay home when we are sick and wear a mask.

“That’s another measure that can reduce risk of transmitting to others or getting infected.”

Kaiser Permanente says its Moanalua facility is busy, but not overwhelmed.

“Approximately 90% of the children admitted to the facility have RSV,” said KP representatives, in a statement.

“Patients range in age from a few weeks old to toddlers and preschool age children. The great team of nurses and physicians are handling the surge well. Moanalua Medical Center still has capacity in the Pediatric Unit and like most hospitals has the ability to flex up if needed.”

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children say cases are declining slightly compared to early October.

The state is also using this time to remind the public about getting up to date with COVID and flu immunizations.

DOH data shows only 13% of the population has received the new bivalent COVID booster aimed at targeting the Omicron variant.