"Jodi Galaydick, MD"It was once simply called flu season, the time of year from fall through winter when the flu is most prevalent. But last year, as the world climbed out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resurgence of flu and RSV cases seemingly slammed into the rise in COVID cases. This year, we are again seeing all three respiratory viruses on the rise in our communities.

While it is convenient to group the flu, COVID-19 and RSV together due to their respiratory nature—and the fact that all three are most common during the winter months—it’s important to recognize that each illness is distinct and requires separate tests, vaccines and treatments. The more we understand these differences, the better we can safeguard the most vulnerable among us.

The Three Viruses Vying for Our Attention

Influenza (Flu)

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe, and in some cases, it can lead to hospitalization and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who are sick with the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever / feeling feverish or chills (not everyone gets a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

The flu typically circulates during the fall and winter months, with the severity and impact varying from year to year. Those at risk of severe flu complications include the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and individuals with underlying health conditions. Vaccines are developed annually to provide protection against the most prevalent flu strains. The best way to protect yourself is to get an annual flu vaccine, which is safe and recommended for all individuals 6 months of age and older. 

If you are diagnosed with the flu, influenza antiviral drugs may be a treatment option; however, they work best when started early, such as one to two days after your flu symptoms begin. Resting and staying hydrated are the best ways to manage the flu, as well as using over-the-counter medicines for fever reduction and pain relief.


Caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 has been the most prominent global health concern since 2019. It can lead to severe respiratory distress, hospitalization and death. 
Symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure and can range in variety and severity. COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s recommended you get tested for COVID-19. Risk of severe illness increases for those who are unvaccinated; adults ages 50 and older; and those who have underlying health issues, such as chronic lung disease or heart disease, or are immunocompromised. The updated COVID-19 vaccine is available. It’s safe and recommended for all individuals 6 months of age and older.

The FDA has authorized or approved several antiviral medications to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in people who are more likely to get very sick. Most people with COVID-19 can recover at home with rest and over-the-counter medicines as needed.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

RSV is a common respiratory virus that primarily affects young children, the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems. It can lead to mild cold-like symptoms but may cause severe lower-respiratory-tract infections in these vulnerable groups. People infected with RSV usually show symptoms within four to six days after getting infected.

Symptoms of RSV are often similar to the common cold and include:

  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

Adults 60 and older can now receive an RSV vaccine. For infants, there are two options: Pregnant women can get the vaccine between 32 and 36 weeks, if that falls during RSV season (September through January), or their baby can receive RSV antibody immunization if the baby is younger than 8 months of age and was born during or entering their first RSV season.

Treatment for RSV can include over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers to manage symptoms.

It is essential to recognize that the flu, COVID-19 and RSV are distinct viruses with unique characteristics and risk factors. You can visit Garnet Health Urgent Care locations in Goshen, Middletown and Monticello to get tested for all three viruses, with rapid results. Stay on top of eligible vaccines by contacting your health care provider. Additionally, wearing a mask, staying hydrated, practicing good hand hygiene and getting enough sleep are important in helping to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses—to ensure we all have a safe and healthy winter season.

Garnet Health Doctors offers adult immunizations to their patients at locations in Callicoon, Goshen, Livingston Manor, Middletown, Monroe and Monticello. Garnet Health Urgent Care offers rapid testing for flu, COVID-19 and RSV at their Goshen, Middletown and Monticello locations. 

Jodi Galaydick, MD
By Jodi Galaydick, MD

Jodi Galaydick, MD obtained her medical degree from Upstate Medical University SUNY, Syracuse, NY. She completed her Residency in Internal Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical in Winston-Salem, NC. She completed her Fellowship in Infectious Diseases at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois and completed Fellowship training in Critical Care at Mount Sinai in New York, NY. Dr. Galaydick also obtained her Master’s degree in Public Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York, NY. Dr. Galaydick works as the system Epidemiologist for Garnet Health, in addition to working at Garnet Health Medical Center in Middletown and at Garnet Health Medical Center - Catskills in Harris as an Intensivist.

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