Pharmacist giving customer flu shot

It’s going to be a pretty busy cold, flu and respiratory syncytial virus season, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 is on the rise now, a year after the country was hard-hit by RSV in addition to cold and flu.

“We’re going to have three bugs out there, three viruses: COVID, of course, flu and RSV.  We need to make sure the American people understand all three and what they can do to protect themselves,” Mandy Cohen, MD, director of the CDC, told a news outlet

Currently, the spread of the three respiratory viruses is pretty low. 

But the same can’t be said about the still-lingering COVID-19. The CDC says positive COVID-19 tests are on the rise, though — as are emergency room visits for COVID-19. There was a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations, but that has slowed.

In terms of COVID-19, the Omicron XBB subvariants are the most common forms of the respiratory virus. The World Health Organization recently identified a new XBB version known as EG.5. they said it was becoming more common across the globe. They are monitoring the spread. The WHO said there isn’t evidence to support that EG.5 produces more severe illness.

As the cold, flu and RSV season draws closer, though, people do have another tool to prevent them. This year, the US has access to two vaccines for RSV recently approved for older adults. About 160,000 older adults catch the virus each year, and about 10,000 die from it annually, the CDC reported.

Giving people vaccines for flu, RSV and COVID-19 could be a challenge for the healthcare system itself, William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told the outlet.  

Some people may have concerns about getting all of the shots at once, Schaffner said. When you combine flu and COVID-19 shots, it doesn’t seem to affect how effective either shot is. There is some evidence, however, that getting the RSV shot at the same time could make them less effective, Schaffner said.

“I think most of us are going to recommend it’s OK to get flu and COVID vaccines together, but wait a bit until you get the RSV shot,” he told the media platform.