It’s been nearly three years since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States. Since then, the country has seen nearly one hundred million confirmed cases and more than one million fatalities due to the virus.
Since the implementation of COVID-19 vaccines in late 2020, the cumulative effect of vaccinations and boosters have prevented more than 18 million hospitalizations and 3 million deaths.
This year, however, there are two additional viruses causing concern, and hospitalization, among Americans. The emergence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and seasonal influenza virus along with surging COVID-19 cases is being referred to as a “tripledemic.”
RSV and seasonal influenza hospitalizations have seen spikes in the past several weeks, especially compared to past years.
Seasonal influenza hospitalizations began surging in fall 2022. The cumulative hospitalization rate per 100,000 residents has already eclipsed five of the past 12 seasons. Flu season is traditionally viewed as October through April.
RSV has also emerged early this year. During the last two months, the cumulative hospitalization rate per 100,000 has already surpassed the previous four seasons. Like seasonal influenza, RSV season is traditionally viewed as October through April.
With high hospitalization rates occurring so early in the season, we will continue to see high rates of hospitalization related to these two seasonal illnesses.
One way to reduce the risk of hospitalization, according to the CDC, is to get a bivalent COVID-19 booster. Data published in a recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality weekly report suggests bivalent COVID-19 boosters cut the risk of contracting severe COVID-19 by 57 percent.
Another CDC report states bivalent vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization for those 65 and older by 83 percent.
While bivalent boosters appear to be effective against emerging COVID-19 variants, only 14 percent of the eligible population in the U.S. have gotten it so far. Sustained vaccination drives, easy access to vaccine doses, and pairing a seasonal influenza vaccine with a COVID-19 bivalent booster are ways vaccine administrators can increase uptake.
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Along with proper hygiene, the use of masks and other PPE in certain situations, and self-isolating when symptoms exists, vaccination is the best defense against seasonal influenza and COVID-19. While there isn’t an approved vaccine for RSV, one may be approved and ready for administration by next season.
At Helmer Scientific we are dedicated to supporting medical professionals in the fight against COVID-19 as well as emerging seasonal viruses like influenza and RSV. Helmer's GX Solutions refrigerators and freezers are certified to the NSF/ANSI 456 Vaccine Storage Standard.
NSF/ANSI 456 is the first global standard that certifies cold storage equipment used to store vaccines can maintain performance requirements in real-world scenarios.
We have developed a vaccine storage guide outlining the NSF/ANSI 456 Vaccine Storage Standard and how it supports vaccine administrators’ efforts to ensure each dose delivered has maximum impact.