Tripledemic: COVID-19, the Flu and RSV - What You Need to Know

Jan 12, 2023



Tripledemic: COVID-19, the Flu and RSV - What You Need to Know

Disclaimer: The insights in this write-up were up to date at the time of publication. However, the facts and information about COVID-19 change daily, so we recommend accessing the websites of the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and your state and local government for the latest updates.

While everyday life has been slowly normalizing at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic with fewer restrictions to travel and socialization, the number of COVID-19, flu, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) cases is suddenly increasing. Considering the surge of all three viruses, some medical experts are concerned about a potential “tripledemic” this winter.

Every year, RSV causes approximately 300 deaths among children under 5 years, and 14,000 deaths in adults aged 65 and older. Most influenza and COVID infections are currently mild but may cause severe complications in those with pre-existing conditions if not treated promptly. Also, since the COVID-19 cases in Southern California continue to increase, Orange County was moved up to “medium level” COVID-19 community in December 2022.

Being aware of these three viruses and their related precautions is crucial to protecting your health this winter.

What Is A Tripledemic?

“Tripledemic” refers to three different respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, influenza (flu), and RSV. While COVID-19 cases are expected to rise in the coming months, the flu and RSV cases have already increased. If these viruses strike simultaneously, hospitalizations and deaths may increase. While vaccinations and treatments may help lower the risk of severe illness, some people are at a higher risk of contracting COVID and the flu, including:

  • Adults 65 yrs and older
  • People with a weakened immune system or chronic health problems
  • Unvaccinated individuals

RSV is especially common in young children, premature babies, and children with congenital health conditions.

How Important Are Vaccinations?

All three viruses are contagious and may cause mild to severe illness. Vaccinations are the best way to stay protected against them. Getting flu and COVID vaccines can be life-saving for children, seniors, and people with chronic conditions. Also, supportive care and treatment can help reduce the severity of an RSV infection, as RSV vaccinations are still under development.

Public health officials advise getting flu shots every Fall, and COVID boosters as recommended.

How Do I Know If I Have the Flu, COVID-19, or RSV?

The three viruses share many symptoms, including cough, runny nose, fever, and differing degrees of difficulty breathing.

Though RSV affects people of all ages, affected children may require ultimate care until recovery. Watch out for the symptoms in your child regularly, especially during the first year of life, and consider an ER visit if your child experiences:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Bluish nails

Can I Get All three Infections at the Same Time?

Though uncommon, it is possible to get multiple infections at once. During the beginning of the pandemic, many people tested positive for both the flu and COVID. While RSV viruses are common in children, adults can also have COVID and RSV simultaneously.

How Will A Flu Shot Protect Me?

Every year, the flu vaccine targets specific strains of the flu virus that are likely to spread during that flu season. After getting vaccinated, your body will begin producing antibodies within 2 weeks, and over the next two months, you will have enough antibodies to fight off the specific strain. If you are exposed to the virus during the flu season or after that, the vaccination will help increase your immunity against it to protect your health.

As the flu virus mutates every flu season, you need a new flu shot every year. While the vaccine won’t protect you from every strain, it minimizes your risk of severe illness.

Prevention Strategies for the Tripledemic

You can protect yourself from tripledemic by practicing the following measures:

COVID-19 Prevention Measures

  • Get booster shot
  • Wear a mask
  • Follow social distancing

Flu Prevention Measures

  • Get annual flu shots
  • Don’t touch your mouth, nose, and eyes with unclean hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing

RSV Prevention Measures

  • Avoid close contact or sharing utensils with sick people
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Clean and disinfect high-contact surfaces

How Can We Help?

Whether you have flu, COVID-19, or RSV, visit one of our clinic Irvine Woodbridge Walk-In Urgent Care, Fountain Valley Urgent Care, or Costa Mesa Urgent Care CA, today for proper diagnosis and treatment. We offer flu shots at all our three locations, COVID-19 testing at two convenient locations (Fountain Valley and Irvine), and treatment for all 3 infections. With our swift medical care and assistance, we can quickly treat you while preventing further complications.