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‘Tripledemic’ Affects 40 Percent of U.S. Households

February 07, 2023

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. households were affected by the triple threat of COVID-19, the flu, or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this winter, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, released today, shows how the flu and RSV returned in a big way this year, and the ways Americans have come to terms with the threat of COVID-19. The vaccine monitor comes as the federal government plans to transition away from the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11.

“While reports have shown a recent decline in hospitalizations for COVID-19, flu, and RSV, the latest COVID Vaccine Monitor survey finds the so-called ‘tripledemic’ was indeed a feature of most Americans lives during the past month or so, including the holiday season,” the report notes.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Feeling ill:  About 38 percent of U.S. adults reported that their households had someone who was sick with at least one of these three viruses during the past several weeks
    • This included 27 percent who were sick with the flu, 15 percent with COVID-19, and 10 percent with RSV
  • Public health perspectives:  About 46 percent of households said news of the three viruses spreading made them more likely to wear masks or take other precautions
    • Most U.S. households were not worried about serious illness from COVID-19 (69%), the flu (74%), or RSV (75%)
  • Medication shortages:  About 20 percent of people who were sick and tried to get over-the-counter medicines reported having difficulty getting those medicines
  • Lagging vaccination campaign:  About 28 percent of adults report receiving an updated COVID-19 bivalent vaccine booster shot
    • Among those who didn’t get the bivalent vaccine, about half said they felt they have enough protection from their initial vaccination or a prior infection
  • Quotable:  “While studies continue to investigate the longevity of the new updated bivalent booster, some consensus has emerged that immunity and protection against infection is likely short-term,” the report notes. “The January COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor survey finds many who have already received the new booster are now eagerly awaiting guidance from the CDC about when they can be eligible for another shot.”

The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor tracks the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations over time. Additional information from this month’s report is available online.