King County Health says there is growing concern about tridemia – KIRO 7 News Seattle

The King County Health Department says there is growing concern about local tridemia. The latter medical term refers to the growth of three viruses at the same time. More recently, the term has been used in connection with the increasing number of cases of COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.

“We are very concerned that King County is showing high numbers of influenza, RSV and COVID-19 cases this winter. And specifically the impact it could have on our already fragile health care system,” said Dr. Eric Chow of the King County Health Department. “We are already seeing higher volumes of RSV cases than we have seen in the past four years, with a particularly sharp increase in volume over the past week. And we’re also seeing an increase in local flu cases.”

One reason for concern about rising flu cases is that some Seattleites are struggling to make vaccination appointments because of the availability of pharmacies.

“I go to website after website. CVS, Bartells, Rite Aid. And I’m seeing dates pushed back two, three, even four weeks,” says Sabrina Packman, a Seattle parent.

Pacman says she struggles to find flu shots for her family in time, making her hesitant to go out in public without the vaccine’s protection.

“I can’t have protection, even going to the grocery store. It’s really disappointing,” Pacman says.

She shared her frustration on social media, writing that finding a flu shot in Seattle was like “finding a unicorn.” Others in Seattle also used social media to outline the long wait times (“one month”) and the long distances for an available appointment (“50 miles”).

The King County Health Department tells KIRO 7 the lack of hours at some, but not all, health centers and pharmacies is not due to a lack of vaccines, but rather a lack of health care providers to administer them . The health department’s Kate Cole says the lack of federal funding this year has also limited the size of vaccination centers.

“One of the differences this season compared to previous years of the pandemic is that most of the federal COVID aid that local jurisdictions like King County were receiving is no longer being sent. And so we and the partners just don’t have the resources to be able to set up these large, mass vaccination sites that people used at the beginning of the pandemic,” says Cole. “So that’s part of the difficulty in terms of people being able to find appointments, especially in better-resourced areas like Seattle. Because we as King County are focusing our vaccination resources on the parts of the county that have been hardest hit and have some of the least health care resources.”

Some Seattle health facilities offer same-day vaccinations, but this may depend on insurance.

The health department says the three viruses will continue to strain hospital systems. They are asking the community to still get a vaccine, even if it is inconvenient.

“Our hospital healthcare system is already fragile and we are really worried about their capacity, especially as we enter the winter months. So that you can get these [vaccines] it will certainly help protect hospital capacity and allow them to treat other people,” Chow says.

The King County Health Department offers these suggestions for anyone struggling to find a vaccine appointment, whether it’s for COVID-19 or the flu:

  • Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacy
  • Vaccines.gov can help you find appointments
  • Many King County school districts have school health centers that provide students with free vaccinations
  • Some community health centers, such as SeaMar and HealthPoint, offer appointments to community members. Call ahead.

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