CLEVELAND (WJW) – The Ohio Department of Health is warning about a possible “tripledemic,” a potentially life threatening combination of viruses including the flu, RSV and COVID-19 this fall and winter.
In a virtual press conference Thursday, August 17, the department’s director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, along with others, advised the public to prevent the preventable by staying up-to-date on vaccinations.
The word of caution comes amid a “modest rise” of COVID cases nationwide and in Ohio, Dr. Vanderhoff said this summer.
“COVID, it isn’t gone, and we really do need to prepare ourselves for the upcoming fall and winter respiratory season,” said Vanderhoff. “Which will undoubtedly include COVID, influenza and RSV.”
The department reported just under 3,000 COVID cases last week, 87% fewer cases than this time last year, according to Vanderhoff. He said cases, despite the recent uptick, remain historically low.
For the first time, there will be a new tool to fight RSV, vaccinations, for the respiratory virus that left infants gasping for air last year as cases soared nationwide and pushed some pediatric hospitals to capacity.
“I have seen the worst versions of RSV where it’s either life-changing, life-threatening or even resulted in loss of life,” said Dr. Michael Forbes, chief academic officer at Akron Children’s Hospital. “So this is actually a historic moment for us in pediatrics.”
Vanderhoff said the shot could be available as soon as October. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends one dose for infants younger than eight months born during or entering their first RSV season.
“Reduces [chances of RSV] by about 70% overall, it reduces hospitalization by almost 75%, so a real game changer,” said Forbes.