While it’s not the usual time of year for a lot of sneezing, snorting, and coughing, many parents bring their children to PM Pediatrics to be treated for respiratory infections, such as the common cold.
It has offices in West Hartford and Manchester.
“We’ve been surprisingly busy over the summer,” says Dr. Christina Johns, senior medical advisor to PM Pediatrics. “The volume has grown slowly over the past, oh, maybe six weeks or so.”
That’s pretty much when the state relaxed COVID-related rules.
Soon people started hanging out more and taking off their masks.
“At the height of the pandemic when everyone stayed at home and everyone wore masks. Gosh, it sure was nice not to catch a cold and not see a significant flu season. And that’s because masks work. But now we’re starting to see more gatherings, fewer masks, and that means more of the virus is starting to circulate,” Johns said.
While people have wondered if our immune systems might have been weakened during the pandemic, Johns believes we have good immune memory and now it’s just a matter of exposure.
There is another problem where Dr. David Banach of UConn Health points out.
“I think it can be very difficult to differentiate between these cold viruses and COVID,” said Banach, UConn Health’s hospital epidemiologist.
At the moment, children under 12 remain a vulnerable group without a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for them and the Delta variant is spreading rapidly.
And even among those who have been vaccinated, the symptoms of COVID-19 tend to be milder and may resemble a cold.
Pfizer and BioNTech say a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine could extend protection against the virus.
“I think my general messages are that if there is concern, it will be tested. There are a lot of tests available here in Connecticut, and you know, I think this is the best way to give you an answer,” Banach said.
Experts say it’s hard to say how long this rise will last and what it will mean for the fall.
For now, they advise trying to stay healthy by washing your hands often, keeping your distance if possible and throwing out events.