Protecting Yourself from the Tripledemic in 2023

Most people are beyond tired of talk of vaccinations, masks, and variants.  While understandable, remember that the potentially severe consequences of the “tripledemic viruses”; COVID-19, the flu, or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), are far worse than getting a booster and wearing a mask.

Yes, this fall, masks and boosters are still crucial, especially for our most vulnerable populations, including older adults, people with chronic conditions and those who are immune compromised. If individually and collectively, we can take simple steps to help individuals avoid the threat of debilitating long-term effects and even death, then why wouldn’t we?

Late last year the health care system dealt with unprecedented emergency room overcrowding, growing surgery backlogs and staff burnout.

While it must be recognized that part of the problem is the breakdown in Canadian healthcare that CARP is working hard to address (read more and take action here)., the “tripledemic,”which included COVID-19, the seasonal flu, and RSV certainly exacerbated the problem.

So how is fall 2023 and beyond shaping up?

Says a McMaster University expert on Respiratory health, “When we look at data coming out of the southern hemispheres, specifically Australia, we can see they had a pretty grim cold and flu season.  We kind of use them as predictors of what we might expect, and what they had was a pretty significant COVID wave. They also had a lot of RSV infections…and they had a bad year for influenza. The good news is that we can avoid a sequel to that crisis, but only if we collectively work together through mask wearing .

“Most experts agree that we’re in the very earliest parts of (COVID) wave. So, we’re waiting with bated breath to see if it’s going to be a wavelet or a big wave.  There has definitely been an uptick in hospitalizations and (viral signal) in wastewater.”

Expert advice on how to protect ourselves, others who are vulnerable and avoid strain on our health care system remains steady, and foremost on the list of ways to protect yourself relates to vaccination.

In fact, vaccination saves more Canadian lives than any other form of health intervention.

  • Stay updated on your COVID boosters – they should be taken six months after the prior dose.  While you may feel like you’ve taken “enough”, it’s the recency of the boosters that determines the degree of protection, not the number you’ve taken.
  • While Older bivalent vaccine boosters are available in Canada, the new formulations targeting the latest COVID variants are not yet available. Speak with your health professional about whether it’s worthwhile to wait for the updated vaccine.

Other key vaccinations:

  • Get your flu vaccinations
  • Get your shingles vaccinations
  • RSV vaccinations are likely to be available soon. Stay tuned.

Simple ways to stay safe:

  • Indoor masking is going to provide a layer of protection that could make a real difference to your health and longevity. Properly fitted masks work.
  • Stay home when you are sick or avoid others that are sick.

Read more about how to protect yourself from COVID-19, including with respect to what to do if you get sick from covid, and what to do if you are in the minority of people who cannot medically tolerate a covid vaccine.