Gamez: Safety concerns over the holidays with ‘tripledemic’ surge

Dec 9, 2022, 2:22 PM
The flu is spreading fast and unusually early this year all across the country. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

The flu is spreading fast and unusually early this year all across the country. Even my family was hit with Influenza A over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was so bad that we had to take our daughter to Seattle Children’s Hospital twice because of breathing issues. We also had a hard time finding children’s Tamiflu and had to use the Children’s pharmacy to ultimately fill the prescription – QFC and Safeway were both out.

So with Christmas and Hanukkah approaching, what can we do to stay safe?

Rise of pediatric flu causes worst medication shortage in ’15 years’

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook joined CBS Mornings and shared tips on how to keep safe during the holiday season. However, his advice still holds true for future holiday gatherings:

1. Mask up – don’t let anyone shame you for wearing a mask.

2. Ventilate – if you are in a room with a lot of people, open a window, and maybe take your get-together outside.

3. Test for Covid-19 before you meet up (we are testing Thursday evening before we travel).

4. Get vaccinated. The flu and Covid vaccines are available. There is, unfortunately, no vaccine for RSV.

5. Keep your distance

It is possible that COVID-19 restrictions helped lower influenza transmissions, however now that mask restrictions aren’t in effect, cases appear to be going up.

Over the past few weeks, weekly hospital visits for “influenza-like illness” increased from 1,300 per week (3%) to nearly 6,000 visits per week (13%), according to data from the Washington State Department of Health (WSDH). And those numbers are just from the 73 providers who share data with the WSDH.

Each county tracks data differently, but Pierce County alone shows nearly 4,000 people went to the emergency department or urgent care last week from influenza-like illnesses – accounting for 14% of all visits.

So far, 13 deaths have been reported in Washington, including one child.

Follow Micki Gamez on Twitter or email her here.

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Gamez: Safety concerns over the holidays with ‘tripledemic’ surge