Respiratory Spread in Schools

Approximately 10% of the global human population is infected with influenza viruses annually.1 But school children are particularly susceptible to a high rate of respiratory illness.2 With a high number of students and staff confined in close quarters, they are extremely susceptible to not only getting a respiratory infection, but to passing it on to others.

Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, influenza was responsible for more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine-preventable disease.3 In addition to COVID-19 and influenza, many other respiratory viruses can have a big impact on children. For instance, RSV is responsible for 2.1 million outpatient visits and 58,000 hospitalizations annually for children under 5 years old.4

The start of the school year coincides with the beginning of respiratory season. Early fall marks the beginning of a season of elevated spread for many respiratory viruses, including influenza and RSV.5 But there are steps that school staff and parents can take to help keep kids safe.