Respiratory Virus Surveillance Among Children with Acute Respiratory Illnesses - New Vaccine Surveillance Network, United States, 2016-2021

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022 Oct 7;71(40):1253-1259. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7140a1.


The New Vaccine Surveillance Network (NVSN) is a prospective, active, population-based surveillance platform that enrolls children with acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs) at seven pediatric medical centers. ARIs are caused by respiratory viruses including influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus (HMPV), human parainfluenza viruses (HPIVs), and most recently SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), which result in morbidity among infants and young children (1-6). NVSN estimates the incidence of pathogen-specific pediatric ARIs and collects clinical data (e.g., underlying medical conditions and vaccination status) to assess risk factors for severe disease and calculate influenza and COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness. Current NVSN inpatient (i.e., hospital) surveillance began in 2015, expanded to emergency departments (EDs) in 2016, and to outpatient clinics in 2018. This report describes demographic characteristics of enrolled children who received care in these settings, and yearly circulation of influenza, RSV, HMPV, HPIV1-3, adenovirus, human rhinovirus and enterovirus (RV/EV),* and SARS-CoV-2 during December 2016-August 2021. Among 90,085 eligible infants, children, and adolescents (children) aged <18 years with ARI, 51,441 (57%) were enrolled, nearly 75% of whom were aged <5 years; 43% were hospitalized. Infants aged <1 year accounted for the largest proportion (38%) of those hospitalized. The most common pathogens detected were RV/EV and RSV. Before the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, detected respiratory viruses followed previously described seasonal trends, with annual peaks of influenza and RSV in late fall and winter (7,8). After the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and implementation of associated pandemic nonpharmaceutical interventions and community mitigation measures, many respiratory viruses circulated at lower-than-expected levels during April 2020-May 2021. Beginning in summer 2021, NVSN detected higher than anticipated enrollment of hospitalized children as well as atypical interseasonal circulation of RSV. Further analyses of NVSN data and continued surveillance are vital in highlighting risk factors for severe disease and health disparities, measuring the effectiveness of vaccines and monoclonal antibody-based prophylactics, and guiding policies to protect young children from pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and RSV.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Influenza, Human* / epidemiology
  • Metapneumovirus*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Viruses*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • COVID-19 Vaccines