GV community braces, local experts provide safety tactics for ‘tripledemic’ of diseases


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Grace Smith, Staff Writer

Although spreading holiday cheer without COVID-19 precautions has been the hope of many for the last two years, it appears that families may have to wait another year. Experts are warning of a forecasted ‘tripledemic’ this winter as cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Influenza and COVID-19 begin to or are expected to rise.

The data surrounding RSV, a common children’s illness, has already garnered national attention as it continues to dominate pediatric healthcare centers amongst a nationwide children’s antibiotic shortage. Likewise, cases of influenza have risen drastically as they continue to flood children’s hospitals and geriatric care centers.

Although COVID-19 has appeared to begin to fizzle out due to public health initiatives, it’s still prevalent enough to warrant the concern of medical professionals and may make a resurgence in colder months.

As a result, Grand Valley State University community members have begun to take additional precautions when traveling home to be with friends and family last week for Thanksgiving.

GVSU junior Sierra Hilditch said her family plans to take extra precautions to avoid spreading any illnesses to their loved ones during the coming holiday season.

“We’re quarantining once I get home for Christmas break, before we leave for Tennessee, so that we don’t get my grandparents sick,” Hilditch said.

Hilditch said her family has made an effort to stay up to date on their recommended vaccinations before gathering.

Pharmacy technician Emily Orewiler said vaccination-related efforts like the ones Hilditch’s family are taking part in are an important part of managing the tripledemic throughout the holiday season.

“Vaccinations are a great tool for keeping everyone healthy – especially if you know you’re going to be interacting with babies or older adults, which is most likely a majority of us,” Orewiler said.

Calling one’s local pharmacy is one way for GVSU students to check their vaccination status. All pharmacies that provide vaccinations have access to state vaccination registries that show all vaccinations an individual has received, provided that they are a Michigan resident.

GVSU senior Aaron Pope said he’s implementing similar measures to Hildritch’s family in an effort to keep himself and his family healthy over the holidays.

“I’m keeping myself and others healthy by continuing to practice safe and clean measures with regards to hand washing and getting my yearly flu shot,” Pope said. “Not only do I value my health, but I respect and value the health of others.”

Jessica Hallenbeck, a registered nurse, said even though the worst parts of the pandemic are over, making an effort to keep everyone healthy is still as important as ever — even if it doesn’t warrant the extensive measures that COVID-19 did.

“Everybody should be careful, wash your hands, don’t kiss babies and be smart with your choices,” Hallenbeck said. “We were really good during COVID and being diligent with sanitizing. We don’t necessarily have to be that crazy about it, but still, everyone is inside and the heat is on; it can be like an incubator, so we still need to make an effort.”