Flu activity in NJ downgraded to ‘moderate’
The latest Centers for Disease Control Influenza map show flu-like illness in New Jersey has been downgraded from widespread to moderate, but state health officials don't think this means that flu season has necessarily peaked.
"We anticipate that flu activity might fluctuate from time to time, but this is around the time that we see increased flu activity just in general statewide, early January, February," said New Jersey State Epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan. "It's just a matter of monitoring the activity for a while, until we actually see numbers, or our activity truly drop, we can't really say that that the activity is taking a downward trend."
Tan said we tend to sometimes see decreases in reporting for this time-period, which includes after Christmas through New Year's, so this may only be a statistical blip.
According to Tan, the Health Department does not have a county-by-county breakdown of flu activity because "it's a matter of how counties are reporting, but we are seeing a lot of different flu and respiratory outbreaks throughout our state."
When asked how many New Jerseyans have been hospitalized because of the flu, Tan did not have an exact count.
"We don't have that specific number," she said. "We do collect that data but we don't monitor it specifically."
Last week NBC 10 reported that a 40-year-old Vorhees woman died at a Philadelphia hospital from complications of the flu. Nicole Born checked into the hospital at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia several days after her two children, age 7 and 3, became sick on Christmas Eve.
Tan also said the Health Department is not sure how many people have been administered a flu vaccine so far this season.
"Because of the way that flu vaccine is distributed among private entities as well as public entities, we don't have a sense of what private doctors are giving out," she said.
She said the CDC does national surveys every year to get a sense of how many people are getting flu shots, and for last year, the numbers in New Jersey were close to the rest of the country - while nationally about 70 percent of kids 6 months to 4 years old were vaccinated, in Jersey the number was 86 percent. Among adult nationally, 42 percent of the population got a flu shot, while in Jersey it was 40 percent.