Alabama hospital officials weigh in on ‘tripledemic’ concerns

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 7:18 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2022 at 10:11 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Health experts across the country are warning of a possible “tripledemic,” a combination of the flu, COVID-19 and RSV.

They are all respiratory viruses. The concern is very much real in Alabama.

“I think it’s certainly a possibility,” said Dr. Don Williamson with the Alabama Hospital Association. “We are seeing much higher rates of influenza earlier than we did last year.”

A map from the state health department is solid blue, indicating significant flu activity.

COVID-19 is also still around. The Alabama Hospital Association says roughly 180 people are in the hospital with COVID. They report about the same number are also hospitalized with the flu.

The group also stresses RSV is striking hard.

“When I talk to hospitals around the state, the term that I would describe is we are busy, but not yet overwhelmed,” Williamson said.

Baptist Health in Montgomery said its three hospital emergency departments are experiencing more patients with the flu. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, a Baptist Health spokesperson released the following statement:

“We encourage patients who are experiencing non-emergent flu-like symptoms to please contact their primary care office or nearest urgent care facility for flu testing.”

While Jackson Hospital is seeing low COVID-19 and RSV cases, the hospital is reporting more flu cases this month. A spokesperson released this statement:

“We have a response plan in place in the event that a serious communicable disease begins to impact the hospital. This includes measures to address surges in times of crisis, source control, engineering controls, patient placement, etc.”

There is not currently a vaccine for RSV, but there are vaccines for COVID-19 and the flu. Health officials strongly urge the public to get both.

“We know that individuals who are vaccinated against influenza, it will not guarantee you don’t get influenza. It dramatically reduces the risk of hospitalization and reduces the risk of death,” Williamson said.

Because RSV does not have a vaccine, the public is encouraged to cover their coughs, wash their hands and to not interact with others when sick.

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