Public Health Talks Respiratory Illnesses

posted by Colette Rossiter on Tuesday, September 26, 2023

As summer is winding down, cold and flu season is ramping up. Add COVID and RSV to the mix and we have a recipe for a triple threat of respiratory viruses. Here are some FAQs to help you understand what to expect this fall and winter:

What’s the latest information about COVID-19? 

You may be hearing that cases are up locally and nationwide. While this is true, hospitalization rates are much lower now than during the height of the pandemic. And, people are experiencing less severe disease. Studies are finding that many people have some protective immunity due to previous infections and/or being fully vaccinated. New virus strains continue to appear, so it’s best to consider a boost in immunity with the new version of COVID-19 vaccine that has just been released.

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

If your respiratory symptoms are at a point that you need to see your healthcare provider, you can be tested there. Most respiratory viruses have overlapping symptoms, which makes it hard to tell the difference among the infections without a test. Fortunately, your provider can test for flu, RSV and COVID with one swab.  

In addition, the U.S. government is once again offering FREE COVID-19 test kits. Every household is now able to order four more free COVID-19 rapid tests delivered directly to their home. Go to to place your order. You can also find COVID tests for purchase at local pharmacies.

What if I test positive or have been exposed to COVID-19?

The CDC isolation recommendations for people who test positive remain unchanged.  CDC has a nice calculator people can use to determine how long to isolate while infectious, or what to do if exposed.  It is available at

What can we expect with Flu and RSV this fall and winter?

Flu and RSV arrived earlier than usual last fall and experts are predicting a similar pattern this year. Last year, RSV hospitalizations were up among those under age of 5 years old and the elderly. Preventive measures such as frequent handwashing, staying home when sick and covering coughs are vital.

Are there any new vaccines available?

Fortunately, vaccines are now available for all three viruses, depending on age and risk factors.

For adults, check with your clinic or pharmacy for available vaccine. For children, Public Health offers all available pediatric vaccines - schedule an appointment online:

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About The Author

Colette Rossiter

Colette Rossiter, serves as manager for Spencer Hospital Community Health Services and Clay County Public Health. Colette has enjoyed the variety of responsibilities her nursing career has provided, yet has a passion for public health and safety.