There are only a few days left before the start of the school year and the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage in France. Concern is mounting among pediatricians. In an open letter published on Wednesday, August 19, seven pediatric societies recommend the vaccination of children against influenza and gastroenteritis. This measure could, among other things, facilitate the diagnosis of Covid-19.
A measure to reduce medical consultations
Influenza and rotavirus gastroenteritis are two viruses that cause symptoms similar to those of the coronavirus. Every year, ” rotavirus is responsible for hundreds of thousands of consultations, tens of thousands of emergency room visits, and several thousand hospitalizationss ”, says Robert Cohen, pediatric infectious disease specialist and vice-president of the French Pediatric Society. Likewise, influenza is one of the most common illnesses in emergencies.
However, these two viruses can easily be confused with Covid-19. Paediatricians therefore believe that it is necessary to carry out a mass vaccination so as not to burden consultations with doctors and emergencies. ” An enlarged influenza vaccination would reduce part of the consultations for acute respiratory syndromes », Explains Professor Alexandre Belot, rheumatologist-pediatrician at the Femme Mère Enfant hospital in Lyon.
Doctors recommend rapid diagnostic tests
The French public health agency indicates that children represent less than 5% of Covid-19 cases surveyed around the world. Despite everything, these are not to be neglected. A study published in The Lancet demonstrates that they are exposed to a risk of infection similar to adults, but are just less likely to show severe symptoms. In addition, a report from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control indicates that children with symptoms are just as contaminating as adults.
Despite parents’ concerns, pediatricians, however, do not recommend systematic PCR tests in cases where children have worrying symptoms (fever, diarrhea or cough), because the positivity rate for this type of test remains low in children under ten years. Better to use rapid diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2. Even though these are less precise, the quick results still allow you to take measurements more quickly.
Finally, what to do at school if a positive case is detected is a question that particularly worries doctors. According to them, if clear and precise strategies are not put in place, the start of the school year risks being chaotic.