Flu season: A potential ‘tripledemic’

RSV activity is already high, with health experts predicting a severe flu season.

For the past two years, the flu season has been mild to nearly non-existent.

Health experts have explained the lack of a severe or even moderate flu season on the COVID-19 pandemic and the precautions being taken to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

However, with COVID-19 moving out of the pandemic phase and the dropping of mandated mask wearing and other precautions, a severe flu season is forecasted for this year.

And the season could be further complicated by an expected COVID-19 surge and a sharp rise in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in infants and young children, creating reasonable concerns for a potential so-called ‘tripledemic.’


A “normal” flu season runs from mid-October until the spring, typically peaking in terms of cases in December through February.

Last flu season held the potential for a “twindemic,” in which there was a serious concern of simultaneous infections of influenza and COVID-19, potentially overwhelming the body’s immune system.

This season, with COVID-19 cases rising toward an expected fall and winter surge, that concern remains, but has been further complicated with the unprecedented rise in RSV — the “tripledemic.”

Running concurrent with flu season, RSV is another virus causing upper respiratory distress, leading to coughing, sneezing, runny nose and fever, among other symptoms.

The virus can infect anyone, but it can be especially dangerous for infants and young children, often leading to severe symptoms and hospitalization.

How do they know?

Public health experts look to the southern hemisphere, specifically Australia, where the flu season occurs before it arrives in North America, to gauge the severity of the upcoming season.

Peaking in June but lasting until mid-September, Australia saw a significant increase in the number of cases, hospitalizations, admissions into intensive care units and even deaths.

The increase in flu cases can be attributed to the dropping of many pandemic-related precautions, but public health experts and medical professionals also consider the fact that people’s immune systems may be particularly susceptible to respiratory infections.

Immunity to respiratory infections can wane over time. If there has been a string of mild flu seasons, natural immunity would be low.

Despite the rise in cases and hospitalizations, illnesses resulting from a flu infection typically have remained mild.


Medical professionals highly recommend an annual flu shot, as well as COVID-19 vaccine. Recently, an updated booster was approved for everyone 6 years and older.

Public health professionals maintain this is the best way to prepare for the season, offering protection against infection and severe illness for both viruses throughout the season.

There is no vaccine for RSV, unfortunately, forcing health officials and medical experts to strongly encourage good hygienic practices — hand washing, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, avoiding sick individuals and enclosed spaces.