Thanks to the pandemic cases of the flu were down in New Jersey last winter but it's roaring back on at least one college campus.

David Cennimo, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told New Jersey 101.5 the flu season was absent last year because of all the measures that were being taken against COVID-19.

"Basically, you prevent COVID, you prevent flu," he said.

But this year he does not believe many of these measures will happen again. So Cennimo predicted that there will be many more cases of the flu this year.

His prediction is coming true at Rowan University, which is encouraging flu shots for students after 100 cases were reported on campus since Nov. 1, according to Rowan spokesman Joe Cardona. Some of those with the flu have been hospitalized.

Free flu shots will be available on the Glassboro campus every Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Owl’s Nest of the Chamberlain Student Center. No appointment is necessary. Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations can be administered at the same time.

Stopping the spread

Scott Woodside, director of the Rowan University Wellness Center in a letter to the college community said students and staff should continue to practice COVID-19 protocols such as wearing masks indoors, washing hands frequently, cleaning high-touch surfaces regularly, coughing or sneezeing into sleeves and remaining 6 feet apart from others whenever possible.

Cennimo said COVID-19 and the flu are very similar because they are both respiratory-spread viruses. Both viruses also have similar symptoms: fever, headache, cough, body aches, runny nose, scratchy throat, upper respiratory symptoms, even gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The school recommends anyone experiencing symptoms to stay home and seek medical attention from a doctor or urgent care.

Given the similarities, Cennimo said there is no way to diagnose somebody with COVID-19 versus influenza without doing testing.

Previous reporting by Jen Ursillo was used in this report

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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