The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning, alerting healthcare providers of the "urgent need" to enhance vaccine coverage for respiratory illnesses amid a surge in cases across the U.S.

"In the past 4 weeks, hospitalizations among all age groups increased by 200% for influenza, 51% for COVID-19, and 60% for RSV," the CDC said in a news release.

The warning comes following reports of an increase in respiratory illness among children, including 12 pediatric deaths from influenza and 30 cases of MIS-C (rare, serious COVID-related complication in children that causes inflammation to vital organs).

Low vaccination rates against influenza, COVID-19 and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), along with an increase in respiratory diseases, could pose a potential strain on the healthcare system, the agency cautioned.

The CDC "is issuing this Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory to alert healthcare providers to low vaccination rates against influenza, COVID-19 and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). Low vaccination rates, coupled with ongoing increases in national and international respiratory disease activity caused by multiple pathogens, including influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and RSV, could lead to more severe disease and increased healthcare capacity strain in the coming weeks," the news release read.

There has been a decrease in vaccine coverage for seasonal influenza across all age groups compared to the same period last year – 7.4 million fewer influenza vaccine doses were administered this year. The rates were low for COVID-19 vaccinations – 7.7% in children (6 months to 17 years), 17.2% in adults and 9.6% in pregnant women as of Dec. 2. Also, only 15.9% of adults eligible for RSV vaccine received the shots.

Health officials attribute the low vaccination uptake to a lack of recommendations from healthcare providers, concerns about potential side effects, the occurrence of mild side effects, and shortage of time or forgetfulness.

The CDC suggests healthcare providers administer vaccinations, which can prevent hospitalization and death associated with the illnesses. It is particularly important for people who tend to develop severe illness, including infants, older adults, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions.

What are the recommended vaccines?

Flu vaccine - Everyone, six months and older, should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every season, with rare exceptions for people with severe, life-threatening allergies to vaccine ingredients.

COVID-19 vaccine - CDC recommends COVID-19 shots for everyone from 6 months and older. It is safe to get the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

RSV vaccine - It is recommended for adults aged 60 years and older and pregnant women between 32 and 36 weeks of gestation. Babies younger than eight months, who are born during or entering the first RSV season are recommended to take an RSV immunization - Nirsevimab (Beyfortus).