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Health officials relieved no 'triple-demic,' but note COVID, flu and RSV aren't over in Ohio

A patient gets a flu shot in a pharmacy in central Ohio. Experts are encouraging flu shots as the pandemic continues and trials for a COVID-19 vaccine go on.
Karen Kasler
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A patient gets a flu shot in a pharmacy in central Ohio.

There’s good news and bad news about three respiratory viruses that looked like they might hit hard this winter.

Health officials were worried about a "triple-demic" of COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in the winter months. But Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said after a spike in the latter two in November, the numbers have fallen off.

However, he noted none of these viruses has "magically disappeared".

“It would not be at all surprising for us to see still another surge in one of these illnesses. We still have a lot of winter ahead of us," Vanderhoff said.

Vanderhoff said there are still 15 COVID deaths a day in Ohio, about 100 a week. And as it was in the beginning of the pandemic, older people are especially at risk. Vanderhoff said nearly 90% of Ohio’s COVID deaths are people over 60, and that the CDC has shown people with the latest booster are 2.4 times less likely to die than vaccinated people who haven’t been boosted with the most updated shot.

"Only about 15% of Ohioans have the latest booster. And perhaps most importantly, only about 41% of Ohioans who are 65 or older have received it. This is leaving too many people vulnerable," Vanderhoff said.

Vanderhoff added that Paxlovid is available as a treatment for COVID-19, but it should be started as quickly as possible after testing positive.

This spring, the federal government will end the nationwide COVID public health emergency. But Vanderhoff said he’s not sure of the immediate impact.

“There is still a lot to be clarified. But the ending of the public health emergency does not signal an end to all federal funding," Vanderhoff said.

Vanderhoff noted people on Medicare or those insured through the Affordable Care Act or private companies may have new co-pays but still will be able to get COVID shots, tests and treatment.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.