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New Jersey’s Flu Epidemic Worsens [AUDIO]

For the past several days, we’ve been telling you about how the flu bug is spreading across the region.

Mario Tama, Getty Images

Today we get word from the Jersey Health Department that the problem is getting worse.

State Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd says, “While last week’s report showed that there were certain regions of the state that were only at moderate activity, now every region of the state is at high activity for flu. Statewide New Jersey is experiencing a high level of flu activity, our surveillance coming in particular from our hospitals and long-term care facilities shows continued increases.”

Vaccine Shortages in Some Parts

As a result, she says there are now vaccine shortages in some areas.

“We have seen there has been an increase in the demand for flu vaccine,” says O’Dowd, “as a result of individuals learning the flu season is a little bit more challenging this year…But we do know there still is flu vaccine available – we have a find a flu shot locator on our department website – an individual can plug in their zip code and find the area providers that have vaccine available to distribute.”

The Commissioner adds, “We know the flu vaccine is the single most effective thing that any individual can take advantage of in order to protect themselves from getting sick or having a more severe version of the illness… and the CDC is reporting that this year’s flu vaccine is very good match for the strains of flu that are circulating out in the community…If you are vaccinated you are much less likely to have to go see your doctor due to illness.”

She also says it’s important for people to remember, “The flu shot will not get you sick – it does not give you the flu..but it takes some time to become effective, so if you’ve been exposed to the flu, before you get your flu shot, it takes about 2 weeks for the vaccine to be effective, and so before that period of time is up you are susceptible to getting sick from the flu…And it is not too late to get the flu shot for it to be helpful for you…The flu season begins in the fall time period, but it lasts until April first, so it’s not too late to get a flu shot for it to help protect you throughout the flu season, we don’t know yet if we’ve even hit the peak of the flu season.”

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