Did COVID precautions prevent NJ residents from getting the flu?
Right before New Year's, it looked like this was going to be one of the worst flu seasons in years in New Jersey but that certainly did not turn out to be the case.
According to state epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan, the latest influenza surveillance data indicates there is very little influenza activity.
“Statewide activity for flu is pretty low right now, but we are seeing some slight increases in our out-patient and emergency department visits and positive lab reports,” she said.
She noted the trend we’ve been seeing over the past six weeks is very unusual because “typically we tend to see increases in flu activity, particularly peaks in activity in January, February here in New Jersey.”
Is flu season over in NJ?
Tan said it appears influenza activity could be on the way out after peaking the Garden State in early January.
“Flu is unpredictable so we can never promise that flu activity has peaked for the season," she added.
She stressed current trends suggest influenza activity will remain low as we transition from winter to spring in the coming weeks.
Did COVID precautions help with flu?
So why did flu season peter out?
“It’s possible that with the Omicron surge that there might have been some contributing factors from all the extra precautions that people were taking at that time" such as masking and social distancing, she said, adding that "we weren’t the only state to see that.”
Vaccine can prevent illness
She said even though flu season may already be on its way out, people can still get sick.
“We have a very effective flu vaccine, and vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against flu," she said.
Masking, hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick also help prevent the spread of influenza as well as other respiratory illnesses.
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