Just a few days into the winter season, a growing number of New Jersey residents are getting sick with the flu.

(Piotr Marcinski, ThinkStock)
(Piotr Marcinski, ThinkStock)

"Right now we're at moderate flu activity, so we're definitely seeing influenza-like illness all over the state," said New Jersey state Epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan.

Tan said the flu is unpredictable but so far what we're seeing is considered normal.

"As far as the level of influenza activity that we see now is what we typically see at this time of the year" Tan said. "However we do expect that influenza activity will start picking up in January and February."

She said even if the predominant influenza strain now circulating in New Jersey and much of the rest of the country is not a good match with the vaccine that is in the flu shot.

"The fact is that getting the flu vaccine might help protect you from getting more severe illness. Getting the flu vaccine will help prevent against getting more severe illnesses just in general," Tan said.

Dr. Tan said that's especially important for people who have weakened immune systems or underlying illnesses.

She also said it's important to remember that the "flu vaccine does take about two weeks to build up the antibodies, so if you haven't gotten the flu vaccine get it now."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports influenza is now widespread in 29 of the 54 states and territories that it routinely tracks. Every year, more than 20,000 people die from influenza.

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