Doctors believe there could be another “tripledemic” this winter with COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and are urging individuals to protect themselves by getting vaccinated.
David Cennimo, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, discusses what you need to know about the series of recommended vaccines.
What can we learn from last year’s flu season and what should we expect this year?
Most experts think we will be back to “normal” flu levels, which means higher levels than we saw during the pandemic. The good news is that this year, the influenza AH1N1 component was updated to better reflect currently circulating viruses. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) preliminary figures from last season show 27 million to 54,000 million flu illnesses and 19,000 to 58,000 flu deaths, up from 8 million to 13 million flu illnesses and 5,000 to 14,000 flu deaths from last year. This increase is likely due to the loosening of public health precautions that were in place during the pandemic. Pediatric deaths rose from 49 deaths in 2021–2022 to 174 this past season.
Who should receive each vaccine?
This year, the RSV immunization is especially promising for infants and adults 60 and over who are considered most at risk for severe outcomes. Last year, the common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms led to the hospitalization of 58,000 to 80,000 children under 5 and killed 100 to 300 children. It also accounted for 60,000 to 160,000 hospitalizations and 6,000 to 10,000 deaths among adults 65 years and older.