PHOENIX — COVID cases are on the rise again across the country and in Arizona. As September gets underway, the start of the fall is near and more illnesses will start to pop up as the weather gets colder.

There’s a new COVID variant that’s making the rounds, and with cases starting to increase, Dr. Janice Johnston with Redirect Health, says the number of cases is underreported.

“We’re definitely seeing that. I think a lot of times people, you know, if they’re feeling a little bit unwell, just aren’t even testing at all or they just test at home and it doesn’t get reported anywhere,” Johnston said.

There’s a new vaccine to target the latest COVID variant. If people are looking to get vaccinated but are unsure whether or not to wait, Johnston said it’s best to wait until it’s out. She added that it will be out either later this month or next month.

RSV and the flu are two other illnesses that would be considered part of the “tripledemic” in addition to COVID. RSV is a respiratory virus that infants and kids usually experience as well as adults over 60 years of age.

“We definitely see a lot of hospitalizations from RSV every single year,” Johnston said. “It’s actually exciting to see that there’s new protection for that and this is the first year that this is going to be offered.”

Months ago, both the FDA and the CDC approved the first-ever RSV vaccine. Those should be available in the fall as well. No specific date has been given yet.

As for the flu, vaccines are already at doctor’s offices and pharmacies ready to go out this fall.

Johnston recommends getting the flu vaccine closer to late September or October to fight the peak in cases.

“We want your peak immunity from getting your flu shot to kind of coincide when the peak of the cases generally will happen,” she said.

In past years with COVID, doctors have given both the flu and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. For those eligible for the RSV vaccine, Johnston tells ABC15 she recommends her patients to wait to get the RSV vaccine separately.

“So if there were to be any kind of side effects with it, you could know that it comes from that,” she said.

While COVID is on the rise again and both RSV and flu season are almost here, Dr. Johnston says the threat of a tripledemic is not as concerning as it would be during the first year of the pandemic.

“We definitely see a surge in all of these things in the wintertime. COVID seems to have its own little pattern of when it sort of surges up again probably has to do with the virus mutating and changing,” she said. “But, definitely with RSV and the flu, we see it every single year and you know in terms of, you know, missing work, hospital staff, medical staff being available, all of those things, it can definitely be a concern.”

SOURCE: abc15 Arizona

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