😷NJ expects to see increased activity of viruses that are circulating in the community

😷Respiratory illness activity is considered "high" in NJ and other states

😷Officials say it's not too late to get protected

'Tis the season to be coughing.

Outside of New York City, the Garden State is the only spot in the Northeast where respiratory illness activity is considered "high" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Beyond routine colds, communities across New Jersey are being hit by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the flu, and COVID-19.

According to Tina Tan, the state's epidemiologist in the Department of Health, the Garden State is seeing increases in activity for each of these viruses. RSV is impacting young kids in particular.

"We do expect to see increases in flu, increases in RSV, increases in COVID-19," Tan told New Jersey 101.5.

New Jersey flu activity

Currently, influenza activity is considered "moderate" statewide by DOH.

There have been eight influenza "outbreaks" reported this season.

As of now, the flu vaccine appears to be a good match for the flu viruses circulating in the community, Tan said. So far this season, there have been zero confirmed flu-associated pediatric deaths.

Officials have been pushing residents for months to fight back against the flu by receiving a vaccine for the season. Even if the shot doesn't keep you from contracting the virus, it could help reduce the severity of symptoms.

New Jersey COVID-19 activity

Biden COVID Tests
FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests indicating a positive result are photographed in New York, April 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

The number of positive and probable COVID-19 cases in the state has been gradually increasing over the past few weeks, according to DOH data. But the count is still lower than where it was during a stretch of weeks between August and September.

If last season is any indication, New Jersey can expect a spike in positive cases in the new year. Compared to early December 2023, there were about 10,000 more positive cases during the week of Jan. 21.

For the reporting week that ended on Dec. 2, COVID-19 was the cause of 2.5% of deaths in New Jersey.

Another round of COVID-19 vaccination is available for this season. Health professionals say you can get a COVID shot and a flu shot during the same visit.

RSV activity in New Jersey

And protection against RSV is available for New Jersey's more vulnerable residents.

For many people, contracting RSV is just a nuisance, but it can take a toll on New Jersey's older and youngest residents.

Immunizations have been approved on the federal level over the past several months to give at-risk individuals a better shot at fighting RSV. Vaccinations are available for those aged 60 and older, as well as pregnant moms who are a month or two out from giving birth.

And this is the first RSV season with an official proactive option for infants and at-risk toddlers. CDC recommends the injection of antibodies for all infants younger than eight months.

According to CDC's data on New Jersey, influenza, COVID-19, and RSV are each taking up a greater percentage of emergency department visits than a month ago.

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