Viral Respiratory Season Could Overwhelm Healthcare Systems in the Coming Months

Viral Respiratory Season Could Overwhelm Healthcare Systems in the Coming Months

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is projecting that the upcoming viral respiratory season will be similar to the previous year, with the triple threat of COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) potentially straining the nation’s healthcare system. Colorado has already seen an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since August, and it remains uncertain if these numbers will level out or continue to rise during the winter season.

Last year, COVID-19 caused more hospitalizations than the flu in Colorado, with 8,231 individuals hospitalized compared to 3,076 for the flu. Additionally, 2,630 people were hospitalized for RSV, predominantly children. While statewide RSV data was not previously available, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has recently started tracking RSV hospitalizations.

The CDC predicts that the total number of hospitalizations this year will be higher than pre-pandemic levels. To mitigate the impact of the viruses, health experts recommend getting vaccinated. Individuals aged 6 and older are advised to receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine if it has been two months since their last vaccination. Children 4 years and younger may require two doses, and those who have recently had COVID-19 should consult with their healthcare provider regarding vaccine timing.

The FDA has recently approved two vaccines for RSV—an inactivated virus vaccine for older adults and one for pregnant women near the end of their third trimester. These vaccines help build immunity to RSV and protect against severe disease. While available for specific groups, individuals should talk to their healthcare provider to assess the suitability of these vaccines.

The CDC’s advisory panel previously withheld strong recommendations for RSV vaccination due to potential side effects, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and atrial fibrillation, reported after vaccination during clinical trials.


  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)
  • Scripps News
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