A new health survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania reveals that over a third of American adults are apprehensive about contracting the seasonal flu, COVID-19, or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in the next three months. These three viral illnesses, collectively referred to as the “tripledemic,” overwhelmed healthcare facilities last winter.
While RSV typically reaches its peak later in the year, hospitals in certain parts of Texas are already witnessing an influx of children with RSV-related symptoms in their emergency rooms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild cold-like symptoms but can lead to severe illness, requiring hospitalization, especially in infants and older adults.
The survey reveals that there is no consensus among U.S. adults regarding which virus is more likely to cause severe illness. Approximately 22% believe it is COVID-19, 13% say RSV, 7% say the seasonal flu, and 41% believe they are equally likely to cause severe illness. Meanwhile, 16% remain unsure.
Furthermore, the APPC’s Annenberg Science and Public Health Knowledge (ASAPH) survey, conducted between October 5-12, 2023, with a panel of over 1,500 U.S. adults, shows that Americans are becoming more aware of RSV compared to earlier this year. New vaccines have been approved for adults aged 60 and older, as well as pregnant individuals, to protect newborns against RSV.
Q: What is RSV?
A: RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus, a common respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe respiratory illness, especially in infants and older adults.
Q: How does COVID-19 compare to RSV and the seasonal flu?
A: There is no consensus among U.S. adults on which virus is more likely to cause severe illness. While 22% believe it is COVID-19, 13% say RSV, and 7% say the seasonal flu. However, 41% believe all three are equally likely to cause severe illness.
Q: What measures are being taken against RSV?
A: New vaccines have been approved specifically for adults aged 60 and older, as well as for pregnant individuals, to protect newborns against RSV.
Q: Are concerns about influenza increasing?
A: The survey indicates that 39% of U.S. adults are worried about contracting the seasonal flu in the next three months, with no significant change from January 2023. However, 61% are not worried.