CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois Department of Public Health officials said not enough kids are getting flu shots this year, despite an early and widespread season.
IDPH said participation for kids under 5 dropped during the last two flu seasons amid the COVID pandemic.
"So far, we are seeing similar, not improved rates of Chicago children getting the flu vaccine this year compared to years prior," said Chicago Department of Public Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Seo.
"You may not understand the risk your child has until you are in the ICU watching your child on a ventilator or planning a funeral for your child and thinking about things you could have done to prevent it," said Dr. Larry Kociolek, Lurie Children's Hospital Infectious Diseases medical director.
While pediatric hospital beds have been filling up with RSV cases for the last few months, public health officials said adding flu and COVID to the mix could be devastating.
"Right now, there are only 9% of pediatric intensive care unit beds across the state and that number has been as low 4% early this week," said Dr. Sameer Vohra, IDPH director.
Hospital staffing shortages are also a challenge.
"While we may have a certain number of beds, we may not have them all open because of staff limitations," said Dr. Thomas SHanley, president and CEO of Lurie Children's Hospital.
Lurie's is seeing RSV cases flatten, but a potential flu surge is right around the corner unless more kids get the shot.
Doctors are also urging pregnant women to get the flu vaccine because it provides double protection, for the woman and in antibodies passed to the newborn.