Tackling the Tripledemic: Influenza

A series looking at how rapid testing can help quickly identify respiratory viruses, including the flu.

Diagnostics Testing|Jan.18, 2023

NOTE TO READERS: As flu, RSV and COVID-19 coincide this virus season, we are presenting a series on the role of rapid testing to give both healthcare professionals and consumers quick results. The first story in the series looks at the role of testing for RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus. 

Colleen's 11-year-old son woke up with signs of a viral infection. What started with feeling a little run down and a sore throat slowly turned into chills, a fever and body aches. In speaking to her mom circle, Colleen learned that half of her son's basketball team was out sick, with two players testing positive for the flu, specifically influenza A. 

As an Abbott employee, Colleen understood the importance of immediate answers and she took her son to get a rapid test when he started feeling very lethargic. A couple of hours later, she had the answers she needed: a positive test result for the flu from Abbott’s ID NOW device and a prescription to help alleviate symptoms.

"I was able to get quick answers and make informed decisions versus waiting at home to see if he got better. Knowing what I was dealing with allowed me to help my son feel better, faster and also keep our other children away so the virus didn’t spread," Colleen said.

Colleen's story is one many families across the U.S. are facing right now with the convergence of respiratory viruses — particularly with rising cases of influenza and RSV — and determining what sickness they or their children may have. Particularly among the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) latest statistics reported that millions of people across the U.S. have the flu and cases are expected to rise with the holiday season and family gatherings.

It's important to understand the risk that flu poses and how to best prepare yourself and your family for the coming season. Flu can be a dangerous disease for the oldest among us, but there are important preventative measures we can take to ensure we stay safe as we celebrate the holidays together.

Getting Vaccinated

The flu vaccine is the first step toward protecting yourself. It is an effective tool at preventing death and disease. The CDC recommends everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exception. You can find a location to get a flu shot at vaccines.gov.

Getting Tested and Treated

If you suspect that you or a loved one has the flu, it’s important to know your status. Medications like Tamiflu are effective at lessening the severity of symptoms such as coughing and sore throat, and lowering the amount of time you experience symptoms by up to two days. Tamiflu is only effective if taken within the first 48 hours of symptom onset, meaning that it’s important to be able to quickly know if you have the flu. That’s where testing at the pharmacy comes in.

Pharmacists have played a critical role during the pandemic. Now they're stepping up to help tackle the flu.

Throughout the pandemic, Walgreens has used Abbott’s ID NOW rapid molecular tests to give quick and reliable results to help people determine if they had COVID-19. This cold and flu season, Walgreens is expanding its pharmacies’ testing services to help communities manage the highly transmissible viruses circulating this holiday season. People will now be able to schedule both a rapid flu test and rapid COVID-19 test through Abbott’s ID NOW devices at nearly half of Walgreens locations. Individuals can visit Walgreens.com or schedule via the Walgreens app where COVID-19 and flu testing locations can be chosen from the list of stores with availability of these services.

Learn more about symptoms, potential complications and the importance of testing and treatment for the flu here.

This story originally published on Dec. 19, 2022, and was updated on Jan. 18, 2023.


ID NOW™ COVID-19 test has not been FDA cleared or approved. They have been authorized by the FDA under an emergency use authorization for use by authorized laboratories. The tests have been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens, and are only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostic tests for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the declaration is terminated or authorization is revoked sooner.