Flu activity in New Jersey is nose diving — but there’s a warning
⚫ High levels of flu in New Jersey have dropped dramatically
⚫ This year’s flu shot is a pretty good match for the strain that’s circulating
⚫ NJ’s so-called “tripledemic” threat is also fading, but there’s a warning
Three weeks ago influenza levels were high in all parts of New Jersey, and it seemed like everybody you knew was getting sick, but that’s no longer the case.
According to Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of the communicable disease service at the New Jersey Health Department, flu levels have started to nosedive.
“Overall this week we are reporting that New Jersey has slipped from moderate into low levels, with higher levels, meaning moderate still being seen in Northern part of the state, but clearly we’re in a downward trend,” he said.
He pointed out this flu season has been very unusual, with high levels of influenza in all parts of Jersey in mid-November, which is early.
Flu season may come roaring back
Lifshitz said flu activity usually peaks in early February instead of dropping off dramatically like it is now, but that doesn’t mean flu season is over.
“Flu seasons are notoriously unpredictable, certainly the hope is it will be leaving and not coming back, but unfortunately it can, and that’s exactly what did happen last year.”
In March, influenza levels tailed off but then shot back up in early April.
What kind of flu is circulating?
He said the vast majority of influenza is type A, which is a close match to the vaccine that’s out there.
“While we do not yet have all the data on vaccine efficacy, we do expect that the vaccine should be working reasonably well," he said.
He said the bad news about H3N2 influenza, the type that is circulating right now, is that "it tends to be more severe than some of the other types of flu, which might be why we’ve had a worse season so far.”
Lifshitz said the groups at highest risk from influenza are the elderly, young children and those who are immunocompromised.
The so-called “tripledemic” threat seems to be fading
He noted as flu cases diminish in the Garden State, RSV is also fading, and the new XBB COVID variant, nicknamed “the Kraken,” does not seem to be as sinister as had been feared.
When it comes to COVID, it is basically impossible to predict what will come next
He adds even though influenza activity is on a downward trajectory, “we still do encourage those people to go ahead and get their flu shot if they haven’t gotten it yet. Just because you haven’t gotten it yet doesn’t mean that you might not get it.”