As colder weather descends on Kansas City, mounting apprehension in the health community is palpable surrounding a potential resurgence of the ‘tripledemic’. Last year witnessed an unusual early onslaught of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), which, in conjunction with escalating cases of COVID-19 and the annual influenza outbreak, severely strained the city’s hospitals and healthcare networks.
Casualties of these overlapping health crises included overwhelmed emergency rooms, diminished bed availability for patients, and an escalating workload for hospital staff, creating a predicament that many fear may be replicated. Hospital wards are on high alert as the holiday season fast approaches and people start traveling again, thereby increasing the chances of the disease spreading from multiple parts of the country. RSV and influenza case numbers have thus far been congruent to their earlier baselines, but there is usually an uptick during the holiday period.
Though COVID-19 cases in most counties are reportedly low, there is still a steady stream of patients affected by the virus. Unreported cases, termed as “casual COVID”, may also be prominent, with people eschewing testing despite having symptoms. This year, Health infrastructures are facing yet another concern: dwindling supplies of vaccines, particularly for RSV patients under eight months of age.
Allocations in health institutions vary, but they all agree that the situation is precariously balanced. Despite this, healthcare professionals remain optimistic about the availability of adequate vaccine supplies by next year. To cope with the present supply shortages, prioritization strategies are being employed to ensure infants at the highest risk level are protected.
Meanwhile, healthcare professionals continue to emphasize the importance of common precautionary measures – practicing good hand hygiene, using facial masks, maintaining social distance, and being vigilant about symptoms – to stem the spread of these respiratory diseases.