WDH Recommends Vaccines As Concerns Of “Tri-Demic” Rise

With respiratory illnesses on the rise, hospitals in Wyoming and across the U.S. are beginning to feel the pressure. William La Jeunesse has more on how the situation could worsen. And coming up – we’ll hear from Casper parents about these illnesses impacting children.

A surge in respiratory illnesses, combined with COVID-19 and the flu has doctors warning of a possible “tripledemic.”

A virus known as “RSV” poses the biggest threat right now, mainly in younger children. It causes symptoms similar to the flu, such as fever, sore throat, and fatigue. Experts blame the spike, in part, on relaxing covid-precautions and a rise in indoor gatherings.

“We know that if you have two viruses at the same time you are sicker than if you just have one. We are seeing kids with three and even four viruses all at the same time and I’ve never seen that in 40 years.”

Pressure now builds on the country’s hospitals. According to the CDC, about 75% of pediatric beds in the US are filled.

“Hits our youngest population, kids and toddlers pretty hard, and sometimes those kids have trouble breathing and they have to be hospitalized for treatment of that.”

The agency says flu activity is also on the rise, with Georgia, New York and South Carolina seeing the greatest spike in cases. The number of COVID-19 infections remains low, but in previous years, cases increased around Thanksgiving. Doctors urge folks to get their COVID boosters and flu shots by Halloween to prevent severe complications.

“The only booster that matters is the new booster that’s kind of specified for the omicron.”

The Biden administration says a vaccine for RSV could be available by next fall.

The Wyoming Department of Health is now suggesting people take precautions as the threat of viruses increases this winter. Our Kimberly Barroteran spoke with parents who hope their children don’t get sick.

The Wyoming Department of Health is getting the word out today that they are recommending flu shots for anyone six months of age and older as cases are on the rise this season.

State health officer, an epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health, Dr. Alexia Harrist, says they expect influenza to circulate in addition to COVID 19 and other respiratory viruses in the coming months. Mary Gard feels there’s not much parents can do to keep their children from getting sick.

“I’m always concerned about them getting sick. Just trying to stay home when they get real sick is probably the biggest thing we can do. Because when they’re kids, you know, they just spread everything so fast and so easily because they touch everything and they put everything in their mouths.

Harrist mentions that flu and covid vaccines are the most important strategy to reduce illness, hospitalizations and death. Parent Mary Graybill says she vaccinates her children as an extra precaution.

“My older one has, you know, gotten vaccinated and got the flu regardless, you know, and that’s just kind of a fact of life. But, yeah, we vaccinate just in case.”

Parent Courtney Kash believes that regardless of receiving a vaccine, children are most susceptible to getting sick.

“I know how, like, sad it can be when a kid gets sick cause it’s the hardest thing when a child gets sick, because you can’t do anything, and half the time they can’t tell you. So I think, you know, for anybody that wants to be prepared, do what you’re going to do. If that’s getting vaccinated, then great. If it’s not, then wonderful. As long as you prepare in some way for it and don’t think that it can’t happen to you because it could happen to anybody.”

Parents hope that the potential tridemic of flu, RSV and COVID health experts are warning about, doesn’t hit hard in Wyoming communities.

Kimberly Barroteran, Your Wyoming Link, Casper.