LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an uptick in positive COVID-19 tests and hospitalizations, the agency is warning the public about a “tripledemic” on the horizon this winter.
8 News Now spoke with Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee on how people can stay healthy and what this uptick means for Southern Nevada.
Schaffner said that there isn’t any doubt that there will be a winter respiratory season with three active virus influenzas, so people should protect themselves as best as they can.
“Of course, we can do that through vaccination. Everybody aged 6 months and older is recommended to receive the influenza vaccine as well as the COVID-19 vaccine. For people aged 60 and older, have a conversation with your doctor and you may be eligible for the RSV vaccine. Also, tourism is going to increase that risk. People will bring those viruses from everywhere to Nevada,” Schaffner said.
When asked what the new COVID booster specifically protects people from, Schaffner said, “The COVID booster is updated the same way we update the influenza vaccine each year. It’s going to protect us against those omicron sub-variants, those grandchildren of omicron that are out there circulating at the present time. So, it’s very well matched to the viruses that are currently circulating.”
Schaffner also said those older than six months are recommended to get both the influenza vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine.
When asked if he expects a lot of hesitancy with the new COVID booster, Schaffer said he does except it as reports show fewer and fewer people taking it.
“Yeah, I’m afraid I do expect some hesitancy. The previous booster was accepted by only 20 percent of the eligible population and now we have this winter respiratory virus season coming. We’re going to have to do two things: provide a lot of good information on safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and even more important make people feel comfortable. This is the right thing to do for themselves and their families and to produce a healthier community,” he said.
As for the reports of a new variant, Schaffner said that people can think of them as “grandchildren of the original omicron virus.”
“The laboratory’s studies indicate very fortunately that this new updated vaccine will cover all of these variants,” Schaffner explained.
As for parents, Schaffner said the two viruses they should look out for are the flu and COVID-19.
“All of these respiratory viruses produce similar symptoms; sore throats, stuffy nose, sometimes a cough, some fever more or less achy and pain or feeling kind of crummy. In the beginning, it’s very difficult even for an experienced infectious disease doctor to tell them apart, that’s why we have the tests available,” he said.
Dr. Schaffner also suggests if you are going out to indoor events where there are a lot of people wear your mask.