Potential for 'tridemic' increases as holiday season nears, health experts say

While the holiday season brings loved ones together, it also amplifies the likelihood of transmitting respiratory viruses, according to health experts.

Viruses like the flu, COVID-19, and RSV spread more during the fall and winter months – especially with the increase in large gatherings and travel, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

In 2022, 'a tridemic' or ‘triple threat' of COVID-19, the flu and RSV became a growing concern; hospitals were overloaded with cases. However, 2023 marks the first year that vaccines are available to protect against all three of these viruses.

"Every year, we've talked about the triple threat and every year we have some cases where it's bad," said Dr. Matthew Sims from Corewell Health, who examines data on flu, COVID-19, and RSV cases. "RSV has gone up to about 6% of all (positive tests), flu is at about 2%, but it is rising, and COVID is up to about 10%."

Doctors are asking people to take precautions during holiday gatherings and travel. According to the CDC, this includes:

  • Getting all recommended vaccines, including those against the flu, COVID-19, and RSV.
  • Handwashing
  • Staying home and secluded if sick
  • Wearing masks
  • Covering coughs and sneezes

"These are things that are important to try to protect you and the people around you," Sims said. 

RSV shots are recommended for adults over 60 years old and pregnant people. 

Flu, COVID-19, and RSV vaccines may all be given in one visit.

Medical professionals have said it is possible to contract both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

"There’s nothing that prevents you from getting exposed to more than one virus," Sims said. "Get your vaccinations. They're going to protect you and those around you."

Starting November 20th, every household in the United States can once again request and receive four free COVID-19 rapid test kits, delivered directly to their residence. Click here to order.