COVID-19, flu trend upward in New Year

The two respiratory viruses appear to be peaking in parallel. It’s not too late to get vaccinated.

Media Contact: Susan Gregg - 206-390-3226,

UW Medicine hospitals this week were treating 55 inpatients with COVID-19. Infectious-diseases specialist Dr. Helen Chu says transmission of both COVID-19 and flu is trending up in Washington state and will probably peak in the next several weeks.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington is among the states with a high rate of respiratory illnesses.

“We have some data from last year when we saw all three viruses [including RSV] circulating, and it's looking like having two infections at the same time is worse in both children and adults,” Chu said. “Having COVID and flu simultaneously increases the amount of time you are on the ventilator and increases your risk of death in the hospital.”

She said the updated COVID-19 vaccine introduced in the fall provides protection against JN.1, the newly dominant variant, according to the CDC. Unfortunately, however, only a minority of Washingtonians are current on their COVID-19 (16.1%) and flu (27.8%) vaccines as of this week.

“It's certainly not too late,” Chu said. “Now would be a good time to get both your flu and your COVID vaccines.”

Data from the Washington State Department of Health shows RSV activity is trending down after an active start in the fall.

Download broadcast-ready soundbites featuring Chu discussing COVID-19 and the flu.

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