By Kelly D. Kreisler, MD, MPH, FAAP, Chief Health Officer and Pediatrician, Health Partnership Clinic
As the weather starts to change, the news is once again featuring pumpkin spice, political turmoil and the upcoming “tripledemic”. The term tripledemic became commonly used in 2022 and refers to the circulation of influenza, RSV and COVID-19 viruses in the community at the same time. The increased hospitalizations from all three viruses can put a severe strain on a healthcare system that is already struggling to maintain appropriate staffing levels. All three of these viruses can be deadly for all ages.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that during 2021-2022 flu season, flu vaccination prevented nearly 1,000 deaths. In the 2022-2023 season, more than 100 children died from influenza. Ninety percent of the children who died were not fully vaccinated. A fact that surprises many people is that nearly half of these children had no known medical conditions which put them at risk for serious complications of the flu. Most people know older adults die from influenza, but fewer people are aware healthy children die from the flu every year. Influenza is usually contagious one day before symptoms appear, meaning it is possible to spread the illness to someone at high risk before you know you are sick. The bottom line is vaccination against influenza prevents illness, hospitalizations and saves lives.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
RSV causes mild cold symptoms in most people, but it can have very serious consequences for many people. Every year in the U.S., more than 50,000 children younger than five years old are hospitalized with RSV, and more than 60,000 adults 65 and older are hospitalized with RSV. The first RSV vaccine for adults ages 60 and older was approved by the FDA in June 2023 and is available locally at some pharmacies. In addition, a new monoclonal antibody was approved for all infants under eight months and certain high-risk infants eight to 19 months during the RSV season. Stay tuned for more information about how HPC is working to get vaccines for all our patients.
Updated COVID-19 vaccines were approved on September 11, 2023. The new vaccine was authorized for six months and older, and everyone ages six months and older is recommended to receive at least one dose this year (if it has been at least two months since your last COVID vaccine). Vaccines will soon be available at HPC for all our patients and staff regardless of insurance status. Remember the best way to avoid severe COVID-19 infection is to stay up to date with vaccines.
Besides getting vaccinated each year, here are good health habits to protect yourself:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose.
- Clean your hands.
- A void touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other good habits: Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.
Once the vaccines arrive, the clinic will notify patients and the community via our patient portal, Facebook and website, hpcks.org.
To schedule your vaccine or for more information, call 913-648-2266.