PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — As cases of RSV, COVID-19, and influenza surge throughout the community, health experts are working to prevent a potential “tripledemic.”
With three viruses to worry about this flu season, many people are wondering how to keep themselves and their families healthy this winter.
On Thursday, Nov. 10, Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources, John Littel, visited a Thanksgiving food drive in Petersburg to publicly receive his flu shot. 8News asked about the realistic threat of Richmond seeing a tripledemic unfold soon.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a tripledemic,” Secretary Littel said. “I think we’re addressing each of the respiratory illnesses that are out there.”
Secretary Littel addressed the primary focus for healthcare professionals right now. He cited the flu as a focal point in the current public health landscape.
“In most jurisdictions in Virginia we’re seeing pretty significant declines in COVID,” Secretary Littel said. “In some areas, it’s a little higher, but we have very stable hospitalizations and deaths, so that’s relatively the base, but what we are seeing is a big influx of flu so for a number of years we’ve been waiting for the flu season to really pick up.”
Healthcare professionals largely attribute this busy, “respiratory illness season,” to weakened immunity stemming from years of social distancing.
“A lot of children will be exposed to RSV and other respiratory illness at some point in their childhood, and really, with a lot of people being at home the past two years, they just haven’t been exposed to it,” Littel said.
Pediatric respiratory illnesses have been top-of-mind lately, as local hospitals and healthcare systems report heightened cases of RSV in children locally and regionally. Healthcare workers are working rigorously to hinder growing case numbers in order to preserve valuable medical resources and to prevent hospitals from reaching capacity and running out of resources — a problem reminiscent of COVID-19’s peak.
“The first thing we look at is, ‘do they have those services available?'” Littel said. “We also look at, ‘do we have the drugs and other procedures to treat people?’ — just to make sure we have treatment available.”
8News asked if the state of Virginia currently has sufficient resources. Littel confirmed that, for the time being, the state does.