A year ago, influenza activity was at high levels in every region of the Garden State.

That is certainly not the case this year, which could turn out to be the mildest flu season ever recorded in New Jersey.

According to Dr. Tina Tan, the state epidemiologist, influenza activity remains low, which she says is unusual for this time of year.

She said influenza tends to impact children more severely than adults and it is not unusual to have multiple reports of children in hospital emergency rooms and even in the ICU during flu season. Not this year.

Public health officials believe precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands frequently, are tamping down other respiratory illnesses as well.

Tan said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently done studies on the impact of mask wearing, finding a correlation with decreased hospitalizations.

She added, however, that flu is unpredictable and “while we’re not seeing a lot of activity right now, who knows? It might increase in the coming months, so we have a vaccine that’s readily available — get vaccinated.”

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