This fall, as students head back to in-person learning and football fans gather en-masse to kick off the new season, public health fears of COVID-19 and flu season loom large. Diminished mask mandates, colder temps, and more time spent indoors will almost certainly lead to an uptick in respiratory illnesses. Here’s what you should know regarding the spread of COVID-19, colds, flu, and RSV.
Over the course of the pandemic, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has evolved. The highly contagious Delta variant is now the predominant variant in the US, and it’s causing more severe infections than previous forms of virus. People who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including young children, are most at risk.
The best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community is to get vaccinated. Though not perfect, the COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States are highly effective against the Delta variant. The CDC recommends that everyone aged 12 years and older get a vaccine as soon as possible. Practicing additional prevention strategies, such as masking indoors in public places is also advised.
Colds, Flu, and RSV Risks
Last year’s public health measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission, such as masking, physical distancing, and remote learning/work, dramatically reduced instances of cold and flu. Unfortunately, that makes the incoming flu season all the more unpredictable. With hardly any immunity against influenza or rhinoviruses, we will likely be more vulnerable to illness. Take, for example, the unseasonal surge in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) over the summer. This respiratory virus usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but can lead to severe illness and complications in infants and older adults.