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Local health officials urging vaccinations as COVID, RSV and flu seasons meet

Health officials want to avoid a "triple-demic" of COVID-19, RSV and the flu, so they are encouraging eligible people to get vaccinated against those illnesses.

DES MOINES, Iowa — For the first time, the FDA has approved a vaccine for RSV. The vaccine is available for those 60 and older.

The respiratory illness can be serious in infants and older adults.

With that new vaccine, health experts want to make sure people are prepared to fight RSV, COVID-19 and the flu to avoid a "triple-demic" this year.

Health officials like those at the Polk County Health Department said the best way for a community outbreak to be avoided, is for everyone to stay up to date on their vaccines. Following rises in cases in all three illnesses last year, they want to make sure people stay healthy heading into the fall and winter. 

"Our hospitals were overwhelmed, schools had high absentee rates, lots of people were sick,” said Polk County Public Health Communications Officer Madisun VanGundy.  “So, this year we want to do everything that we can to make sure we do not experience another tripledemic.”

"I think we are going to see all three viruses lingering in our community," said MercyOne Infectious Diseases Dr. Aneesa Afroze.

While the illnesses won't be completely eradicated, there are things people can do to weaken their transmission. 

"Wear a mask, don't spread your virus, wash your hands properly, and also getting vaccinated,” Afroze said. “I mean, if 60-70% of the people get vaccinated, that's great."

While the message to get vaccinated might be exhausting for some, health officials believe it's vital to keeping the community safe. 

"We know people are tired of hearing about COVID-19, we know that people have vaccine fatigue, and we really want to acknowledge that,” VanGundy added. “But again, if you want to protect your own health, protect your neighbor’s health, your family's health and your friend’s health, we highly encourage that you get all of the updated vaccines that you are eligible for this season."

VanGundy said if anyone has any concerns with any vaccine, they should schedule an appointment with their doctor to go over it.

Polk County said appointments for influenza vaccines are available now and they expect to receive updated RSV and COVID-19 doses in the next few weeks.

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