‘We are bracing for this’: Lowcountry doctors warn ‘tripledemic’ could worsen after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has come and gone but the risk of respiratory illness is still here, after families gathered together for the holiday.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 6:11 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 28, 2022 at 8:41 PM EST

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Thanksgiving has come and gone but the risk of respiratory illness is still here, after families gathered together for the holiday.

“I think we will probably see a significant rise in infections across the country including here in South Carolina, but that remains to be seen,” MUSC Children’s Health Chief of Pediatric Critical Care Dr. Elizabeth Mack said. “We still are seeing large numbers of children even requiring hospitalization and even ICU care with multiple different types of respiratory viruses.”

Mack says MUSC has seen a large number of children in their pediatric clinics, emergency rooms, after-hours clinics, and hospitals, as RSV, COVID-19, and influenza cases rise.

“I know folks always wonder, but surely it’s not the healthy children, it’s the children with underlying conditions,” Mack said. “No, we’ve seen tons of previously healthy children with influenza and with covid that are requiring hospitalization.”

Dr. Emily Young, a family medicine physician at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, says she thinks this “tripledemic” can be something we can expect to see stick around.

“I really don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon so I would really recommend people get their vaccines,” Young said.

There are things you can do to protect yourselves and others.

Young says she can’t urge enough how important it is for people to get their fourth COVID-19 booster that protects against the omicron variant. She also says she’d like to see the number of people getting the flu vaccine to go up. To protect against RSV, which particularly impacts infants, she recommends hand washing, masking if you feel unwell, and staying home if you’re sick, since vaccinating for RSV for most children is not an option.

“Doing those precautionary measures are very important to protect both you, your family, and just other people you might not know in the community, the elderly population, infants, people who can’t really speak for themselves and so we’ll continue to follow the numbers. But in the meantime, I think this remains a real threat that people should take it seriously,” Young said.

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, Mack says it’s the time to get protected with vaccination.

“It takes about two weeks to be sort of fully covered, so now’s a great time for those who already haven’t been vaccinated sort of leading up into the winter holidays to try to avoid spread, hospitalization, death all of those things as much as possible,” Mack says.