What’s different this respiratory illness season?
Between holiday gatherings and spending more time in enclosed spaces, respiratory illnesses spike like clockwork each fall and winter. This year’s timing is not any different.
“Cases and hospitalizations of COVID, RSV and influenza are ticking up,” says Dr. Robert Citronberg, executive medical director of infectious disease and prevention at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. “Although many people are still getting COVID, fortunately we are seeing fewer COVID-related deaths than we saw early in the pandemic. RSV is mostly limited to babies at this time but can certainly affect older adults – especially those with underlying medical conditions.”
Luckily, this is the first time in U.S. history where there are preventive vaccines available for all three widely circulating respiratory illnesses.
“Vaccination is the most important way to prevent sickness,” says Dr. Citronberg. “Make sure you get vaccinated against both flu and COVID. Good candidates for the RSV vaccines include adults over 60 years old with chronic medical problems and pregnant people 32-36 weeks gestation. The vaccine helps babies by protecting them from the illness after they are born.”
If they are available and you are a candidate, you may be able to get all three vaccines in one visit if you choose.
Besides vaccinations, it’s important to stay home if you or others are sick. Careful handwashing is always important as it both prevents sickness and the spread of germs.
If you are at high risk for severe illness, Dr. Citronberg recommends wearing a mask. “Make sure to wear a mask that fits well and is high quality so it’s most effective,” he says.
If you are unsure of which vaccines are best for your individual health, contact your doctor for an individualized recommendation.
About the Author
Anna Kohler, health enews contributor, is a public affairs specialist for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She received her Bachelor of Science in public relations from Illinois State University and has worked in healthcare public relations and content marketing for over tfive years. In her free time, she enjoys working out, exploring new places with her friends and family, and keeping up with the latest social media trends.