Navigating peak respiratory season: FAQs to help providersFebruary 8, 2024
Punxsutawney Phil may say spring is coming early, but it’s not here yet. February is mid-winter, traditionally high time for respiratory diseases, and 2024 is no exception. This season’s big waves of COVID-19, the flu, and RSV appear to have crested all at once. While covid and RSV activity are beginning to decrease, levels of both remain elevated in parts of the country, and test positivity for the flu is still on the rise.1
In short, we’re probably at the peak of this year’s respiratory season, which means that certain questions are more prevalent and pressing than they were in the fall. Below are some examples that providers and patient educators may be hearing in February, along with our answers.
Is it too late to get a flu, COVID, or RSV vaccine this year?
It's never too late to protect yourself and your loved ones. Vaccinations for the flu, COVID-19, and RSV can be effective even if received later in the season. Keep in mind that the RSV vaccine is only for pregnant people and those aged 60 and older. There are also two RSV monoclonal antibodies available for infants and young children. For more detailed information, you can refer to the CDC's guidelines on vaccines.
Can I get sick with covid, the flu, or RSV twice in the same season?
While it is possible, due to factors like new strains and the waning of immunity, there are ways to protect yourself and others. You’re probably already familiar with these from the recent pandemic. Get vaccinated or boosted, stay home when you’re sick, wash your hands, and consider wearing a mask in crowded places.
Is it possible to get sick with two or more viruses at the same time?
Co-infection with multiple viruses, such as influenza, COVID-19, and RSV, is a possibility, but probably unlikely. To learn more about co-infection—including information about testing and treatment—check out this recent article from WebMD.
What are the symptoms of COVID, RSV, and the flu?
The symptoms of COVID-19, RSV, and the flu can overlap, including fever, cough, and breathing difficulties. However, there are some unique aspects to each. COVID-19 might include loss of taste or smell, RSV is more common in young children, and the flu typically brings fever, muscle aches, and fatigue.
How WebMD Ignite can help patient educators:
WebMD Ignite offers specific patient education content on RSV, the flu, and covid. These resources can educate parents and caregivers at the point of care and as part of health plan member outreach—or while individuals are researching information available from your organization. This education can help clarify diagnoses, support shared decision-making, and build a trusted relationship. Explore our options for health consumer Content Solutions, and see how WebMD Ignite can boost your patient education.