Station InitiativesWellness Wednesday


Avoiding the 'Tridemic' during the holidays

Posted at 9:05 AM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2023-01-04 16:52:51-05

Utah’s clinics and hospitals have been inundated with patients from RSV, flu and COVID-19. What some call the ‘Tripledemic’ or ‘Tridemic.’ Now Intermountain Healthcare’sChief of Preventative Medicine wants to get the word out before the holidays that all three of these illnesses are more easily prevented than treated.

Dr. Tamera Sheffield says, “What we're hearing from our providers is that their clinics are packed…emergency rooms are packed, as well as our hospital beds and ICUs.”

Explanations for the outbreak, Dr. Sheffield says are both clear and frustrating.

“So, one thing that is affecting us in terms of these rates is we have not been exposed to the virus and the reason we haven't been exposed to influenza and RSV over the last couple of years is that we were protecting ourselves.”

COVID precautions held back RSV and the flu, but they were waiting for us to let our guard down. Back with a vengeance, they share the viral environment with COVID, and current COVID strains have adapted to evade some treatments.

Sheffield explained, “because of the new strains happening with COVID, the new Omicron strains, there are several of our antivirals that are monoclonal - those that don't work now against the new the new virus strains.”

It’s never been more true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Those ounces come in the form of clearly effective vaccines.

“So, we have influenza vaccine that is highly matched and really just what's circulating in our environment right now,” said Sheffield. “That's in the vaccine, so we can really protect ourselves by getting an influenza vaccine.”

But about 40 percent of American adults had gotten a flu shot by the end of November…And the Utah Department of Health reports 11 percent of Utahns are up to date on COVID vaccines. Dr. Sheffield points out that is even though the vaccines are fare easier to come by this year.

“You can walk into your clinic, your pharmacy, they are available, readily available. And they've just been made available to the youngest children,” she said.