With an earlier-than-normal flu season, a rise in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare experts are predicting a tripledemic this winter. Here’s what you need to know:
- What can I do to protect myself from COVID, the flu, or RSV?
Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are available. Additionally, updated bivalent COVID-19 booster shots are approved for people 5 and older. While there isn’t a vaccine for RSV, the CDC recommends taking precautions like hand washing to prevent the spread. If you have any questions, feel free to contact your doctor.
- How can I tell if I am experiencing COVID, flu, or RSV symptoms?
It may be difficult to distinguish between COVID, flu, and RSV symptoms, as they can all present similarly. Some symptoms, like coughing, may even be mistaken for allergies. Infants with RSV, however, may experience a decrease in activity, irritability, and difficulty breathing. If you are experiencing any COVID-19, flu, or RSV symptoms or have been in contact with a sick person, it’s best to stay home and contact your doctor.
- What would it mean for the healthcare system?
Hospitals already began seeing an influx of patients, mostly children, experiencing RSV and the flu this fall. As we enter winter, we can expect to see an increase in COVID-19 cases due to less restrictions, less social distancing, and decreasing immunity. This trio of concurrent infections could lead to a rise in hospitalizations and put further strain on the healthcare system at large.
As we enter into the third winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is as important as ever to stay informed about how to protect yourself and others. Taking precautions and speaking to your provider about the necessary vaccines will not only help keep you safe, but it can also mitigate the impact of a tripledemic.
*This blog post was written by Crystal O’Neill – Clinical Services PharmD Rotation Student