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Doctors warn about 3 viruses circulating at the same time this fall

According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, there were about 3,000 hospitalizations from the flu last season.

COLORADO, USA — Doctors at UCHealth say now is the time to start planning for a flu shot. They're worried about COVID, RSV and influenza all circulating at once.  

According to UCHealth, modeling trends from the Southern Hemisphere this year show cases of all three viruses increased at the same time, reaching higher-than-average levels.

"I’ll say as a mother of a 5-year-old who was admitted a few times with RSV, it was very scary, and so anything that we can do to protect those most vulnerable is really important," Dr. Larissa Pisney, Medical Director for Infection Prevention, said. 

Respiratory viruses were in full force last year. According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, there were about 3,000 hospitalizations for the flu statewide last season. There were also more than 8,000 COVID hospitalizations. Data collected from five of Colorado's largest counties showed there were more than 2,500 hospitalizations from RSV. 

Doctors are predicting the big three -- RSV, COVID and flu -- will be circulating at the same time this season. 

"We think we’ll see more influenza because a lot of our immunity comes from folks getting infected each year, and so because we had at least two years where very few people got the flu, we’re worried that not only, one, it will happen sooner, so more likely in November where the typical peak is January or later, but also high numbers. So we’re slowly anticipating we’ll see more influenza admissions than we’ve seen in the last three years," Pisney said. "Many of our hospitals are already struggling with capacity, so you add those respiratory admissions to it, I think that could be really challenging for the healthcare system." 

Claire Cruse plans to schedule an appointment for her kids to receive the flu shot in the coming weeks. The mother of two experienced just how bad respiratory viruses could get last season, when her son Edan was diagnosed with two of them. 

Credit: Photo courtesy of Claire Cruse
Claire Cruse's son, Edan

"He had flu in May that year, which like never happens, then RSV hit super early last year and last season, so that was October that he got it and normally they see cases later in the year," she said. "The biggest one for us is any flu shots and immunizations that we can get we’re first in line to get those. Despite the tears that come with it, it’s worth it because we know that we’re protecting them." 

Pisney urges everyone to get their flu shot as soon as possible. Doctors are also expecting a new COVID booster to be available this month. Pisney said it is safe for someone to get both shots at the same time. 

RELATED: What to know about vaccines for COVID-19, RSV and the flu: VERIFY Fact Sheet

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