Americans May Face a ‘Tripledemic’ This Winter With the Spread of Influenza, RSV and Covid-19

At least three viruses—influenza, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)—are threatening to overwhelm the country this holiday season. Americans will grapple with multiple respiratory pathogens, both old and new.


How To Stay Healthy Against The Flu And Covid-19 This Fall 

According to reports from a Salt Lake City newspaper, doctors are gearing up for a severe flu season in the coming months after Australia’s season just ended. The US often looks at Australia to predict what the states might experience during a typical flu season. 

Australia reported 300 deaths and 1,700 hospitalizations brought on by influenza season this year. Kencee graves, an associate professor of internal medicine, noted that Utah specifically hasn’t seen major flu outbreaks within the past two years, however, that doesn’t mean other states shouldn’t relax health and safety precautions as the winter season approaches. 

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In 2021, Australia experienced no deaths and very little hospitalizations brought on by the flu, so the major increase in cases this year was unexpected. 

“That is what makes us in the U.S. a little concerned about how severe this flu season could be. That makes this year an important one to get the flu vaccine,” Graves said.

Doctors typically recommend getting a flu shot before Halloween, as flu season officially starts in October in the US, and continues into March, according to Graves. 

Graves also explained that it’s typically okay for one to get a flu and Covid-19 vaccine at the same time, but if you’re an individual who tends to have a severe reaction to vaccines, you should get both doses at different times to allow your body to adjust. 

“A person’s primary series of the vaccine provides immunity to COVID-19, then follow-up boosters add to that immunity. The original boosters were targeted against the original strain of SARS-CoV-2,” Dr. Hannah Imlay, assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health, told KSL

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“But successive waves of different variants have swept across the world, and vaccines don’t target them as well. They do protect against severe disease and death. But the new bivalent booster targets current variants as well as the ancestral strain,” she explained.

Imlay also expressed that people who have received previous Covid-19 boosters should remain well protected, but it’s important to note that “the new bivalent boosters are authorized to be taken at least two months after one’s most recent vaccine dose, regardless of how many boosters a person received.” 

“Spacing out one’s vaccine doses and infection helps increase protection against the disease. If you’ve had a recent COVID-19 infection, it may be best to wait at least three months before receiving the bivalent booster. You’ve got a lot of immune priming from your infection, you get a lot of immune priming from your most recent vaccine dose, so wait some time before getting the bivalent booster,” Imlay recommends. 

The US is still very much coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Imlay there’s an average of 70,000 new cases and 500 deaths a day throughout the nation. 

“That said, a lot of policy decisions and choices that we as a population have made has really transitioned this to being a large-scale public health response to a response that hopefully is more sustainable and kind of has turned to the endemic model, the country will continue to see high numbers of cases,” she explained.

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Pandemic Habits To Maintain Long Term To Prevent Getting Sick

After being in the Covid-19 pandemic for more than two years, experts are emphasizing the preventative measures that we should adopt long term in order to prevent contracting other viruses like the flu.

Sick Man

The Rising Flu Epidemic Has Only Gotten Worse

Figures recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has highlighted the fact that citizens of the United States could be heading into a serious epidemic of the flu virus. The last week of 2019 saw 46 states’ health departments report “widespread” flu activity as well as the number of those sick also increasing to the second highest amount of cases in a decade; second only to the 2017-2018 flu season.

The CDC announced that 61,000 Americans died from the flu during that period, although these numbers were less than the 79,000 they had originally predicted. However, it has also been claimed that the flu vaccine that is offered this year may not actually be able to compete with the strain of virus that is currently spreading across America. Although most experts are still encouraging people to have the vaccination as they should have fewer symptoms than those who opt not to.

The leader of the CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team, Lynnette Brammer, has confirmed that while it is still too soon to know how bad this season’s flu outbreak will be, there are already cases of hospitalizations and even death, although these do not appear to have increased in numbers as yet. However flu and pneumonia deaths are currently at a lower rate than normal in early January.

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Unfortunately 2019 saw the flu season begin far earlier than normal with those in the Deep South – from Georgia to Texas – seeing large numbers of outbreaks. The virus continued to the Rocky Mountain States and California soon after with the Northeast managing to escape until more recently.

This pattern has been repeated in some countries in the Southern Hemisphere – where winter is between June and August – with Australia also seeing an early flu epidemic in 2019. It usually follows that if the Southern Hemisphere has a bad flu season, the Northern Hemisphere will too.

Despite this there are other ways that America is not “copying” Australia. The A(H3N2) strain of influenza prevailed in many areas of Australia throughout 2019’s winter while American’s appear to be struggling with the B Victoria strain, which usually appears later in the season, often hitting children more than adults.

Although the CDC makes estimates in the number of adults that have died from flu, they keep individual records of all children that have lost their lives to the illness – 27 children have died so far, although the peak season does not usually start until the middle of January. In the 2017-18 season 187 children lost their lives. Residents aged 65 and over are at a higher risk of falling ill.

Nonetheless, there has been an increase in the cases of the strain A(H1N1)pdm09 – a descendant of the 2009 “swine flu.” While H1N1 strains usually occur first they actually result in fewer deaths and hospitalizations per capita than the A(H3N2) or B strains.

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While it appears that this season’s flu vaccination is not suitable to combat the B Victoria flu it has been successful against the A(H1N1)pdm09 strain. The data that the CDC depends on comes from numerous reports collated by clinics, hospital emergency rooms and doctors’ offices across the country, detailing the number of patients that made appointments regarding flu symptoms.

However Kinsa Health has a device that users can connect to their smartphones, enabling them to upload their daily readings of fevers to their app. With around two million users across America using the app this can be a quicker way to measure how quickly the flu virus is spreading. So far the readings from Kinsa has shown that there was a peak in flu like activity just before Christmas with an increase of sufferers on Christmas Eve, however this has reduced by nearly a third in the two weeks since that date, according to their spokeswoman Nita Nehru.

Yet despite the fact that this week’s figures are dropping they are still ‘much higher than is typical of this time of year’ and may increase again now that the schools have returned from their holiday breaks. However these figures could be misleading as the company assumes a fever of more than three days indicates flu and not just a common cold. While the CDC has not endorsed Kinsa or their methods the data continues to show flu patterns up to two weeks ahead of medical clinics’ reports.

Currently the CDC has sampled hundreds of cases of flu and none of them have been able to resist Tamiflu or any of the other common anti flu drugs that are available. This proves that although these medications cannot cure flu, if they are taken early these medications are sufficient enough to reduce the level of an infection.

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How To Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

Holiday and flu season are unfortunately always at the same time of year. Between the weather changing, contained work environments, and non-stop holiday traveling, it’s almost impossible not to find yourself with a scratchy throat, and runny nose. Nothing can be more disappointing during the holidays than trying to enjoy quality time with your loved ones and battling incessant cold symptoms at the same time. Preventative measures and care for yourself is the best bet to avoid getting sick altogether. While up-keeping a sanitary and healthy bubble around yourself may be tedious, it’s one of the best ways to prevent a sniffly Christmas for yourself. 

Travelling is one of the top ways that sickness can be easily spread. You’re surrounded by a bunch of strangers constantly, your touching door handles, seats, and a bunch of other things that have been touched by thousands of other individuals and then inadvertently putting all those germs onto yourself through touch. Luckily, the solutions are quite simple, it’s just a matter of keeping up with them. Washing your hands constantly is the number one best way to prevent the spread of germs and any foreign bacteria that you don’t want infiltrating your body. 

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“Our hands are the interface between ourselves and the rest of the world. In other words, our hands touch all these surfaces that are full of germs, and then we touch our own face and mucosal surfaces — such as our mouth, nose, eyes — way more than you would even notice. Most people touch their face many times in any given minute, and that can transmit illness. I can’t stress the importance of hand hygiene enough. It’s probably the biggest thing you can do to help prevent illness,” says Gina Suh, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. 

If you don’t have constant access to a sink and soap, carry hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with you at all times. It’s important to note that while sanitation products definitely help prevent the spreading of germs, it’s not nearly as effective as hand-washing, so try to keep up with that as often as possible. Sanitizing wipes are also great to keep on you especially in situations where you’re using public transportation or are in an airport/plane setting. Use the wipes to sanitize your seat, armrests, hands, any door handles before touching them, etc. While this may seem excessive to you or get you some dirty looks from judgmental strangers, at least you’ll remain healthy and sanitized. 

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The next best thing you can do for yourself is to manage your stress. The holiday’s can be one of the most stressful times depending on how you view it. Stress itself can’t make you sick, per say, however, it’s the way that stress can affect your body that can cause you to become more susceptible to illness. Stress can cause a loss of appetite, or an overindulgence of food and drinks that aren’t good for you and have a high fat/sugar content. While indulging is obviously encouraged, make sure you’re balancing it out. Many people forget to eat fruits and vegetables when they’re surrounded by delicious holiday desserts, however, fruit and veggies have high vitamin contents which help boost your immune system. 

In addition to making sure you’re incorporating healthy foods into your holiday diet, the number one thing you can be putting into your body that will help fight off unwanted sickness is water. Hydration is always important, especially when your travelling during the holiday seasons. Plane travel in particular can actually cause you to dehydrate at a quicker rate, so make sure you always have a water bottle of some sort on you at all times. The best way to ensure this is to buy yourself a big 32 ounce or more reusable water bottle. There’s plenty on the market that range in prices so you don’t have to spend a lot to ensure that you’ll be consistently hydrated this holiday season. 

“People are more dehydrated over the holidays. Couple that with an airplane’s dehydrating conditions, and you’re looking at a parched body. You don’t necessarily need to chug gallons of water, but you should be more mindful of your intake. I don’t think you should overdo it, because then that could be problematic. I think that the problem is people fall behind in their hydration. They forget about it. So try to maintain normal or slightly above-normal levels of hydration,”  Suh says.

Finally, make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep both before, during, and after all your holiday travels. Jet lag can be the silent killer when it comes to leaving your body susceptible to getting sick. So make sure you’re getting you’re full eight hours of sleep, drinking enough water, and washing your hands every step of the way to ensure that you have both a happy and healthy holiday season.

Flu Shot

Why It’s SO Important To Get Your Flu Shot This Year

The 2019 – 2020 flu season is gearing up to be one of the most intense and difficult ones the United States has seen in a while. The Northern Hemisphere of the world can normally conclude how bad the flu season will be based on how bad it is in the Southern Hemisphere, who experience their seasons before us. Based on the data from May to present day, when countries in the Southern Hemisphere normally experience their winters/flu seasons, we should expect an even more intense season compared to last years severe outbreak. 

Australia is just exiting their winter/flu season, and this year was aggressive from the start. According to Australia’s Department of Health, “influenza and influenza-like illness activity are high for this time of year compared to previous years. At the national level, notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza have decreased in the past fortnight, however it is likely these figures will be revised upwards due to backlogs in data entry. Influenza A was the most common respiratory virus detected in patients.” 

In addition, a 4-year-old in California who contracted the pediatric flu, after a slew of other health issues, has died already before this years flu season has even truly begun. Even though the child had other ailments that unfortunately lead to her passing, doctors aren’t taking the flu diagnosis lightly. “We should never forget that the flu still kills, I always recommend people get their flu shots every year, but a death so early in the flu season suggests this year may be worse than usual,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, a public health officer for Riverside County, California, said in a news release, announcing the death. 

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CDC Director Tom Frieden Discusses Importance Of Annual Flu Shot, Then Receives One

Last year the United States experienced up to 43 million cases of the flu, and around 63,000 deaths that were flu-related. Again, that doesn’t mean the flu by itself killed those individuals, but either worsened pre-existing ailments, or brought out new symptoms through weakening the immune system, regardless, the severity of the flu is not meant to be overlooked. 

The Flu season for the United States normally begins with the month of October, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait until then to get vaccinated. Doctors are urging individuals to get their flu shots as soon as they can before the season starts. Sooner is better, but as long as you receive the vaccination before Thanksgiving, you should be good, but no later than that. Older individuals are recommended to try to wait until mid-October for their vaccinations, simply because their immune systems are weaker and may weaken the potency of the shot faster.

“There is a concern that some older people may have their immunity wane simply because their immune system is more frail, less robust,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases told NBC News.  

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Check Your Local Pharmacies For It’s Seasonal Flu Shot Deals!!!

It takes about two weeks for the body to fully process the influenza vaccination and acquire immunity, so doctors are recommending every individual above the age of 6 months get their vaccine fast. Pregnant women are especially encouraged this year to receive their immunization. If a woman who is expecting contracts the flu, it can react as intensely as it does in the body of a 70 year old, this way, the vaccine ensures protection for the mother and her unborn child. 

Many Americans don’t even bother getting a flu shot every year, since in general it’s not that effective. Last year the vaccination was only 29% fully effective, this was partially due to a second wave of influenza that wasn’t expected from doctors, but regardless 29% is not that impressive. However, there IS plenty of evidence that shows the vaccine eases the severity of the flu, and more importantly prevents further complications, that the flu can cause, to occur. These complications are what can lead to so many flu-related deaths such as pneumonia, organ inflammation, heart attack and even stroke. 

Regardless, everyone should consider taking two minutes out of their day to go down to their local pharmacy for a flu shot. For small children and those with a strong aversion to needles, a nasal spray known as FluMist is available for the second year in a row. Additionally, many people have immune systems that react poorly to vaccinations due to high sensitivity, which can cause them to feel even worse as a result. Cases like that are mainly found in older individuals (65 years old and up) who have less strength in general so doctors recommend a vaccine known as FluZone, which offers a different type of stronger dose that will accommodate to the weaker body.