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Tags: covid | flu | rsv | respiratory syncytial virus | tripledemic | holidays | thanksgiving

Expert Tips for Gathering Safely With Friends and Family

family crowded around Thanksgiving table, grandmother saying a toast

By    |   Friday, 18 November 2022 04:09 PM EST

Just when we thought it was safe to gather with friends and family, the tripledemic is looming.  Cases of this trio of viral conditions ─ flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 ─ are rising and expected to get worse as winter sets in.

According to Yahoo Life, this year fewer people are dying from COVID-19 and hospitalizations are also down. Research has shown that getting vaccinated and, in some cases, boosted with the COVID-19 vaccine lowers the risk of serious illness.

But COVID-19 cases are expected to rise, along with a surge of influenza cases, says The New York Times. Added to the mix of viral threats is the recent increase in RSV, that has children’s hospitals overwhelmed across the U.S.

“We’re seeing everything come back with a vengeance,” said Dr. Alpana Waghmare, a pediatrician who specializes in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Public health officials predict that while most cases of COVID-19, flu, and RSV are expected to be mild, the triple threat of getting these illnesses together may sicken more people and flood our hospitals. This potential tripledemic is “uncharted territory” note the experts, warning that the holiday season may be tainted with sickness.

Fewer people are wearing masks, and many families are eagerly anticipating safe, holiday gatherings. So, is it okay to get back to celebrating as usual with this triple threat on our collective shoulders?

“Gathering for the holidays is less of a concern but it shouldn’t be a non-concern,” says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He warns that COVID-19 cases are likely to surge again this winter, along with other respiratory diseases. He points out there is always a risk of infections when people get together.

Vaccines for COVID-19 and the flu are still the best protection against severe illness, although they may not prevent infection. Everyone should stay up to date with vaccines, and get them as soon as possible, especially the elderly, immunocompromised people, and pregnant women. Young children are particularly susceptible to influenza and RSV and may become severely ill because they have little prior immunity. At the present time, there is no vaccine for RSV.

Dr. Thomas Russo, chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York tells Yahoo Life that people should take some precautions before attending holiday gatherings this year. First and foremost is to get “vaxxed to the max,” he says.

But statistics show than only 7.3% of Americans got the new bivalent booster which targets the current BA.4 and BA.5 variants of the virus, so there is still a risk of transmission and illness. The same advice applies to protection against the influenza virus — get your flu shot, say experts. But according to CNBC, only 49% of American plan to get the flu vaccine this season.

Russo advises wearing a mask if you are using public transportation to meet your family. That is especially important if you will be gathering with vulnerable individuals, such as babies who are too young to get the vaccine, the elderly, or those who have underlying medical conditions.

Schaffner suggests that all guests take rapid COVID-19 tests the morning of your get-together. It’s also important to ask people who are sick to stay home.

© 2023 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

Just when we thought it was safe to gather with friends and family, the tripledemic is looming. Cases of this trio of viral conditions ─ flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 ─ are rising and expected to get worse as winter sets in. According to Yahoo Life,...
covid, flu, rsv, respiratory syncytial virus, tripledemic, holidays, thanksgiving, gather, safety
Friday, 18 November 2022 04:09 PM
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