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Parents and young son and daughter smile and show arms with Band-Aids from vaccine shots.

What Happens When Flu, COVID-19 and RSV Cases Collide?

By Dr. Derek Robinson, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois

A seasonal rise in COVID-19 cases is here. With both flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) seasons on the horizon, public health officials and doctors are concerned again this year about a “tripledemic” surge of all three respiratory viruses at the same time. They urge people to get their vaccines as soon as they’re available because they can take two to three weeks to work once received.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people ages 6 months and older receive a flu shot every year. There is an updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine available that offers additional coverage from new COVID-19 strains. Adults 60 years of age and older can receive a single dose of RSV vaccine. Talk to your doctor to find out if the new COVID vaccine or the RSV vaccine is right for you.

Symptoms for COVID-19 can range from mild, cold-like symptoms to severe trouble breathing and persistent pain or pressure in the chest. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

RSV also can cause mild, cold-like symptoms, but many people recover in a week or two. Some people, including infants and young children, older adults, and adults with chronic medical conditions, are more likely to develop more severe RSV symptoms and require hospitalization. The RSV infection is estimated to cause 14,000 deaths to adults over the age of 65 in the U.S. this year.

Health insurance plans may cover flu, COVID-19 and RSV vaccines as a preventive service, often with no cost to you.

FDA-authorized oral anti-viral prescription medicines to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms also are available and may be covered under your pharmacy benefit.

BCBSIL Community Relations offers vaccines to members and the public. See times, dates and locations here.

The above material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own best medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the best course of treatment. The fact that a service or treatment is described in this material is not a guarantee that the service or treatment is a covered benefit and members should refer to their certificate of coverage for more details, including benefits, limitations and exclusions. Regardless of benefits, the final decision about any service or treatment is between the member and their health care provider.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association