Concerns for rise in respiratory illnesses after the holidays

NOW: Concerns for rise in respiratory illnesses after the holidays

SAINT JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- The holidays are a time that brings us closer to family and loved ones, but will that result in a rise in illness?

The CDC is tracking an increase in hospital visits across the country for respiratory illnesses; namely COVID-19, RSV, and the flu.

Indiana is now at the high level for respiratory illness.

According to the CDC, hospital admissions for COVID have increased in St. Joseph County over the past few weeks.

“It’s just all about how you take care of your body and yourself,” says a local resident, Clarence Bramley.

Folks like Bramley aren’t too worried about feeling under the weather after all the family gatherings over the holidays.

Local experts say it’s typical and expected for respiratory illnesses to go up this time of year, but data from the CDC suggests COVID rates are up for the sixth week in a row while vaccination rates are not.

“There's evidence that covid reduces our immune response which can make us more susceptible to infection,” says Dr. Darrien Sutton with ABC.

All three common respiratory infections are on the rise right now; the flu, RSV, and coronavirus, with some people reporting a lingering cough that can last for weeks.

The CDC is also tracking a new COVID variant, saying it accounts for approximately 39-50% of new infections in the US.

Although they warn it doesn’t pose an additional health risk, they say it also doesn’t change the ways we all know to protect ourselves and others.

"You want to make sure you have that protection, that high quality mask, washing your hands, making sure you're updated on your vaccines and always preparing for the highest risk person of the room,” Dr. Sutton advises.

“The best thing you can do it just try to take care of yourself the best you can,” Bramley says.

The CDC and Saint Joseph County Department of Health both recommend getting your vaccinations to fight all respiratory illnesses.

You can visit the county health department’s website for more information on how and where to get vaccinated.

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