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Protecting your family from COVID-19, RSV and influenza over the holidays

The combination of COVID-19, RSV, and influenza cases this holiday season is putting a strain on hospitals and families.

OREGON, USA — The holiday season has arrived along with what’s been dubbed the “tripledemic” or “triple threat” of COVID-19, Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

“All are pretty common,” said Regence Executive Medical Director Dr. James Polo. “All three are viruses and all three are contagious. Any of these can progress to, potentially, needing care out of the hospital and it’s really about whether or not they’re having difficulty breathing or a high fever.”

The combination of the three has but a serious strain on hospitals in the Pacific Northwest and across the country.

Many parents are struggling to keep up with non-stop sickness spreading in daycare and at school.

Sales of children’s pain and fever medications have more than doubled from last year leading to some empty store shelves.

“During COVID the flu went down, RSV went down. Now that we’re coming back into and environment where we’re more interactive and so forth, we’re getting exposed to the very same virus that we were before and we’re going to have people getting infected,” Polo said.

The number of people with the flu is near record levels in the state. Influenza test positivity went up by 32.3% the week of December 4-10. That is compared to 28.3% the week before, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Nationwide flu activity remains high with 15 million cases, 150,000 hospitalizations and more than 9,000 deaths so far this season.

Meanwhile, COVID cases have increased by more than 35% the past two weeks with deaths up 25 %, according to NBC News.

Tips for staying preventing the spread of viruses during the holidays:

  • Get your flu shot and COVID booster: “It’s important to remember that for both the flu and COVID – we do have a vaccine. Get those kids back into their pediatricians and make sure they’re up to date on their vaccinations,” Polo said.
  • Consider wearing a mask: The Oregon Health Authority is advising people to wear face coverings in crowded indoor areas, particularly to protect kids and older adults.
  • Weigh the risks when it comes to holiday plans: Think about how much you’re willing to risk getting sick. The same goes for the people you plan to see. Every family and individual will be different.
  • Hygiene: keep up hand washing and disinfecting commonly used surfaces
  • Stay home if you are sick

Polo says to remember that many people have mild illnesses and most recover. If you do get sick, get rest, drink lots of fluids, blow your nose to get mucus out. For babies, that means using a nasal aspirator.

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