Triple-demic at Mayfield

The holiday season encourages people to get together and celebrate, but this year, a rise in respiratory viruses such as the flu, or influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID-19 threaten holiday cheer with family and loved ones. Furthermore, COVID boosters are not being administered at the rate many doctors would prefer, and there are signs that the notorious Omicron variant is creating new “immunity dodging” variants.

According to CNN, influenza hasn’t been this bad this early in the year for more than a decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first FluView report of this flu season exhibits that even though cases are relatively low, there is still an early increase in cases that has not been recorded in a long time. 

Infants are most at risk for RSV due to the fact that they cannot cough up what they need to and may need extra oxygen. The increase in RSV is partially a result of the weaker COVID-19 precautions as fewer people are using masks in public or practicing social distancing. In addition, masks and social distancing have helped with preventing the spread of influenza in the previous few years. The worst flu cases at the moment exist in the southern states, especially Florida, where adults 65 years and older are at higher risk of developing serious complications from flu compared with young, healthy adults.

Misinformation about vaccines has also contributed to an increase in hospitalizations due to the flu. Many people have not been informed of the new booster for COVID, which is causing more people to be hospitalized for it. Researchers believe that this season of COVID will be especially severe as the immunity received from the first COVID vaccine is beginning to diminish. 

According to Cathy Cota, Mayfield Senior’s school nurse, RSV in high schoolers only causes a  “common cold”, however, influenza is on the rise at school. 

In the last two weeks, we’ve had six cases of influenza, which is very unusual for this time of year,” she says. “Normally I don’t see influenza at school until January or February.”

Finally, COVID has started to increase in the Mayfield community, and this is causing students to miss many days of school. 

To decrease your chances of getting these viruses, Cota recommends that students keep their hands clean and avoid touching their face, given that the flu and RSV can spread on surfaces. Additionally, students can boost their immune systems by drinking lots of fluids and getting 8-10 hours of sleep. 

The CDC recommends continuing to get the latest COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for your age and being infected with the virus in the past also adds to your protection from the virus. 

According to Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health, “with recent unusually high levels of flu and other respiratory diseases, there are signs the county could be headed toward a Covid surge this fall and winter.”

The daily number of cases are not entirely accurate according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health because many people are relying on at-home tests instead of tests from the county. 

One of the most dangerous things for this “tripledemic”, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota says, is acting as if the pandemic is over. Health experts say that following precautions from previous years may be necessary to lower the spread of the respiratory viruses, which means wearing a mask when around a lot of people and not having large holiday parties. If you do decide to have a gathering, make sure to test yourself before and after and get the COVID booster and the flu vaccine. Although there are no RSV vaccines, keeping your hands clean, staying away from sick people, and wearing a good mask can be helpful. This holiday season, make sure to stay safe and try to prevent the spread of these respiratory viruses to infants or elderly relatives.