Protect Yourself from the “Tripledemic” this Flu Season
Every autumn signals the start of cold and flu season. But this year, health experts are bracing for a “tripledemic” wave of respiratory illness caused by the flu, new COVID variants, and a third pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, that taken together could cause especially dangerous illness in those who are unprotected.
“What we have done for the past two years to protect us from Covid–like masking, safe distancing, and hand washing–also helped protect us from transmitting flu and other viruses,” says Dr. Derek Williams. “This includes RSV, which has caused increased infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in children and adults this year. Now that social distancing requirements and masking guidelines have eased, we in the medical community are urging patients to consider vaccinations like they never have before.” Unfortunately, there is no vaccination for RSV.
According to the CDC, only 1 out of every 2 Americans got a flu vaccine during the 2021–2022 flu season. The CDC estimates that already this flu season, there have been between 6-14 million illnesses, 53,000-110,000 hospitalizations, and 2,900-8,400 deaths.
When talking to patients and families, Dr. Williams tells them that “The best way to protect yourself and your family from serious complications related to Covid-19 and influenza viruses is vaccination.”
Cases of the flu this year are trending upward earlier than usual, which is generally a harbinger of a severe flu season. New COVID variants are also on the rise, and COVID infections could peak this winter as they have in the last two years.
“Now is not the time to gamble with your health. Not when we have tools to keep people from becoming seriously ill,” notes Dr. Williams. “Coming down with the flu can weaken your immunity and could make you more susceptible to catching COVID-19. While the flu vaccine won’t protect you from COVID-19, it could prevent you from having the flu and COVID-19 at the same time – which would likely be worse and more dangerous than either illness alone. It is safe to get your flu shot at the same time you get a COVID-19 booster. So, if you have not gotten the new booster, I recommend you do so when you get your flu shot this year. Schedule an appointment now at your pharmacy.”