When it comes to the flu, it’s been a long hard winter in New Jersey
It’s starting to get warmer, the trees are budding and flowers are beginning to grow — but influenza activity is still high in some parts of New Jersey.
“We are still seeing high levels of activity in the Northwest, Central West and Central East (parts of the state) and then the areas of the Northeast and the South are trending down,” said New Jersey state epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan.
She said in general, “we do see flu start to trend down around now, this month in April, but sometimes we will see cases of flu well into May. We have to keep in mind we can see flu any time of the year.”
Tan noted most Jersey residents came down with the AH3 strain of flu this past winter, which was significant.
“When flu type AH3 circulates in the community as the predominant strain, there tends to be more severe illness, as well as increased hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room,” she said.
She pointed to CDC data that looks at different groups of states, indicating that hospitalization rates this year for flu have been a little bit higher than in previous years.
She said fortunately, “this year’s flu vaccine matched up pretty well with the flu types that were circulating in the community.”
Tan says a recent CDC study confirmed “the vaccine has been pretty effective reducing the amount of, the rate of individuals getting sick by about half.”
She noted flu type A tends to dominate during the winter months, then type B is more common during the spring, so “if people still haven’t gotten vaccinated for whatever reason, because we still do see flu B circulating into the spring, certainly getting a flu vaccine would be helpful.”
Flu season in New Jersey is expected to begin to ramp up again in September.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.