Jacksonville, Fla. – UF Health, Baptist Health, Ascension St. Vincent’s, Memorial Hospital and Orange Park Medical are all dealing with patients suffering from the flu, Covid, or respiratory syncytia virus – commonly known as RSV.

With Christmas and New Year’s approaching, it’s no surprise that medical experts say the number of reported cases can spike when friends and family get together. Jacksonville’s director of clinical research, Dr. Michael Koren, said he is receiving hospital-wide reports of increased infections.

“All the hospitals are packed now,” Koren said. “There are waiting times to get into hospital emergency rooms. And the hospital administrators are sending information to all doctors about trying to get people out of the hospital as quickly as possible.

While some patients are presenting with the flu, Covid or RSV, there are some patients who test positive for both viruses at the same time, Koren said.

“You get two different viruses and your immune system doesn’t respond to them at the same time,” Koren explains.

He recommends social distancing — four to six feet away from others — during holiday gatherings.

“Especially strangers. And of course symptomatic people,” he said.

If you haven’t been vaccinated against Covid or the flu, you should seriously consider getting vaccinated, Coren said. If you’ve been vaccinated and boosted, but it’s been a while since you’ve had a booster shot, check with your doctor to see if another booster is appropriate, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition that could be worsening. covid infection.

As for RSV, it’s a different problem that doctors are still trying to solve.

“RSV doesn’t have a vaccine, but we’re working with it in clinical trials,” Koren said. “And it’s a very interesting virus because we don’t think it’s a real big problem because most people get it when they’re young and we think they’re protected in life, but there are different strains of that virus, and as you get older you become susceptible again.”

Medical experts say proper hand washing is important, especially after shaking someone’s hand, to prevent the spread of these viruses.

“If someone touches their face or coughs into their hand and then shake your hand, you’re going to get that infection,” Koren said. “So please wash often.”

Ascension Saint Vincent Hospital released the following statement.

“Over the past few weeks, Ascension St. Vincent’s has seen significant increases in influenza, RSV and covid-19 cases. We encourage everyone to see their doctor and get vaccinated against flu and covid-19 if they can. According to the CDC, people with flu-like symptoms should not be in contact with children who are at high risk for RSV infection, including premature babies, children younger than two with chronic lung or heart disease, and children with compromised immune systems.

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