It’s March and the Flu Isn’t Quitting in New Jersey
For the ninth straight week, influenza activity is considered high in all regions of the Garden State.
And new numbers from a New Jersey hospital system suggest the vaccination available for residents this season is doing its job for the most part — for individuals who actually opt for the vaccine.
Positive flu cases so far this season (at least 1,055) are already more than double last year's count at this time at the Atlantic City and Mainland campuses of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center.
"About 73% of those patients that were treated in the hospital did not get the flu shot," said Dr. Manish Trivedi, director of AtlantiCare's Division of Infectious Diseases. "This year's flu season has shown some success with the flu shot ... It does show that these people who aren't getting the flu shot are more susceptible because they don't have the antibodies."
AtlantiCare's urgent care and primary care sites, meanwhile, continue to see a high number of flu cases.
The predominant strain seen by the hospital system is Flu B, as is the case on the statewide level. The most positive tests in a one-week period (195) occurred the week of Jan. 28 to Feb. 5.
Since the week ending Dec. 28, a weekly respiratory surveillance report from the state Department of Health has classified flu activity as high in every region of the state, based on samples from schools, nursing homes, hospitals and other areas.
"I don't think it's ever too late to get a flu shot," Trivedi said, noting AtlantiCare was seeing cases well into spring last year.
While anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should at least have a conversation with a physician about the right course of action, Trivedi said most flu cases don't require a visit to a hospital emergency department or even a doctor's office — they can be be managed with plenty of rest and fluids at home, limiting the risk of spreading germs to others.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48.1% percent of New Jersey residents aged 6 months and older received a flu vaccination during the 2017-18 flu season, the most recent season for which figures are available.