Tackling a Triple Threat Sick Season

Tea, many tissues and a pair of glasses on a desk

Written by Susan Helmick, Graduate Assistant for the Graduate College

As the convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, flu season, and the threat of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) unfolds, safeguarding health is increasingly important. Whether you've been sick or know someone who has, the impact of this health trifecta is palpable. While COVID-19 infection rates fluctuate, the seasonal flu can lead to millions of illnesses annually, with a considerable impact on public health. The common respiratory virus RSV, especially impactful for young children and older adults, adds an additional layer of concern in the close-knit interactions of a university setting.  

Preventing illness in this triple-threat season involves a multifaceted approach. First and foremost, vaccination is a key line of defense. The COVID-19 and seasonal flu vaccine, and RSV vaccine for those who qualify, are essential tools in reducing the risk of infection and can significantly curtail the impact of these viruses. Check with your healthcare provider for personalized vaccine recommendations. Many pharmacies also offer walk-in appointments. Or check in with University Health Services for available immunization options. 

Practicing good hygiene remains a fundamental preventive measure. Regular handwashing, using hand sanitizer, and avoiding touching one's face are effective ways to mitigate the spread of viruses. Additionally, wearing masks in crowded or enclosed spaces provides an added layer of protection, particularly where maintaining physical distance is challenging. Awareness of symptoms and prompt testing are vital. Individuals exhibiting symptoms, even mild ones, should seek testing, allowing for early detection and appropriate measures to prevent further transmission. Free at-⁠home COVID-19 tests are still available via the CDC. These tests give rapid results and can be taken anywhere. 

Implementing strategies to boost immunity can serve as an additional layer of defense against COVID-19, flu, and RSV. Adequate sleep, balanced nutrition, and regular exercise are foundational pillars of a robust immune system, as is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Supplementing key vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin D, can also serve as additional support, especially during winter when exposure to sunlight (a natural source of vitamin D) is limited. Effectively managing stress is integral to immune health. Prolonged stress can negatively influence the immune system, heightening susceptibility to infections. Encouraging stress-relieving activities such as mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation techniques contributes to a healthier overall immune response.

Navigating this triple threat requires a collective commitment to health and well-being within our Bearcat community. As this season keeps rolling, let's make sure we put health first, look out for each other, and stay in the know. If we all commit to staying well, we'll cruise into the sunny days of spring together, happy and healthy.