CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) — With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas approaching, hospitals are expecting an increase in respiratory illnesses.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association have called for a national emergency because some hospitals are overcrowded.

According to the CDC, the hospitalization rate for all children in the week of Nov. 12 was twice that of any other flu season.

As people recover from their Thanksgiving trips, they’re also hoping they won’t have to recover from a winter illness.

“On the plane, in the airport, I wear a mask,” said Linda Rosenblatt of Cherry Hill, who just returned from a Thanksgiving trip to Rhode Island.

After years of precautions around gatherings, many are ready for the holiday season ahead of the pandemic.

“Honestly, it’s just another season. You always get a flu shot, and the COVID seems to be dying down a little bit,” said Ryan Recco, who lives at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “So I personally am not too concerned.”

But doctors in our region are reporting higher-than-usual respiratory disease activity, with three different illnesses.

Philadelphia had more than 1,100 cases of COVID last week, a 27% increase from the week before.

In New Jersey, flu activity is high in all regions of the state and higher than in the past few years.

At Cooper University Health in Camden, officials are seeing more hospitalizations for the flu.

“Our census today is 18, which is very high for this time of year,” Dr. Joseph Mantello, chief medical officer at Cooper University, said Monday. “Usually we see an increase in these cases sometime in January or February.”

Mantella is also seeing more pediatric RSV patients at Cooper.

He says the best defense against these respiratory viruses is getting the flu and COVID shots, especially when planning family gatherings.

“I think people can go back to normal,” he said. “The best way to do that, again, is to get those shots now so you’re comfortable.”

Mantello says Cooper has enough staff and beds, but has contingency plans in place in case that changes.

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