This has been one of the worst flu seasons on record and more and more Garden State residents continue to get sick.

“Looking at what we’re seeing with emergency department visits and admissions, we’re still seeing extremely high levels across New Jersey in comparison with previous flu seasons,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan.

Last week, 14,065 cases of influenza had been confirmed since early October by the Health Department. But this week there was close to 18,000 reports of positive laboratory tests for influenza.

That’s an increase of 27.7 percent from one week ago, and at this time last year there were a total of 8,243 confirmed influenza cases, which means this year’s total is more than 100 percent higher.

On Thursday, meanwhile, the state Health Department confirmed a third New Jersey child has died from influenza.

The CDC has confirmed this year’s vaccine is not a good match for the strains of influenza that are circulating.

Typically, flu season can start to wind down in late February or early March, but Tan said no one is really sure what’s going to happen next.

“Flu activity is very difficult to predict, so it’s really impossible for us to say exactly when we’re going to start seeing the activity decrease in a sustained way.”

At the same time, Tan notes a trend is starting to develop — “at least on the West Coast of the United States, where there are some indications that there might be decreasing flu activity.”

She said flu activity in Hawaii in Oregon is down.

And if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, she stressed it is definitely not too late to get the flu shot.

"As long as these viruses are circulating, and knowing flu season can last until April or May, it’s definitely not too late to get the vaccine and get yourself protected.”

While the vaccine is not considered a good match for this year's circulating viruses, the flu shot is believed to give some defense against the flu.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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