There is no scientific definition for a “tripledemic.” This year, flu, COVID and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are filling hospitals to the point where experts are concerned.
“What we are seeing is record levels of RSV in young children,” said Dr. Scott Roberts, a Yale Medicine infectious diseases specialist.
RSV cases have started to fall. However, COVID and flu cases are rising. The flu season is bad this year. People lack the natural immunity they once had after being asked in public for so long. Moreover, many people didn’t get a flu vaccine this year because of “vaccination fatigue.” Millions fewer doses than usual were administered. People have just had so many shots, and listened to so many news stories about shots, that they were apathetic toward getting it.
Some cities are trying to make the holidays safer, and keep hospitals accessible, by bringing back mask recommendations. “The holiday season is about togetherness and there is a way to gather safely — even as respiratory viruses in our city are unusually high,” said New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan. “It starts with protecting yourself. Vaccination and boosters are critical but so are common sense precautions like masking when indoors or among crowds and staying home if you don’t feel well. Also, get tested before getting together and treated quickly if you test positive. We want everyone to have a happy and — most of all — healthy holiday.”
“The combination of surging flu, RSV and COVID-19 cases is pushing hospitals past their current ICU bed capacity, which never happened during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Oregon,” Dean Sidelinger, the state’s top epidemiologist.
Many healthcare workers have said the current crisis reminds them of the early days of the pandemic. They are overwhelmed. Mississippi is down to 65 ICU beds and is sending some patients to other states. However, Tennessee and Alabama have stopped accepting out-of-state transfers.
There are many ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming seriously ill this holiday season. It’s not too late for a flu shot or a COVID booster. Masks are a good idea in public indoor spaces and when you are unsure of your health status or the health status of those around you. Most pharmacies have free COVID tests, so you can check that you are COVID-free before heading to a gathering. Stay home if you feel unwell, and don’t feel guilty about requesting others do so. Following these tips, you can have a safe, fun holiday season.