Will this year’s vaccine be a good match for NJ flu season?
Following an essentially nonexistent flu season to round out 2020, New Jersey recorded a rather mild battle with influenza during the 2021-2022 season.
But things are not expected to be so simple this time around, for a number of reasons.
In the meantime, you're being advised to receive a vaccination before New Jersey hits the colder months. It's recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for anyone 6 months and older, with rare exception.
Hints of an upcoming bad flu season in New Jersey
New Jersey has been "lucky" to go a couple of seasons without a "significant amount of influenza," according to Dr. David Cennimo, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
"Almost certainly that was because of corrective actions related to COVID and the prevention of COVID — wearing masks, not going to work, social distancing, things like that," Cennimo said. "We seem poised right now to have a surge of influenza because we're not doing those things."
Results from the Southern Hemisphere — Australia, in particular, which entered spring in September — suggest an early and more severe flu season in 2022-2023. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, this past flu season in Australia was particularly severe among children.
At the same time, Cennimo noted, the "educated guess" about which virus strains will be most commonly seen can't be as strong this year as it has been in the past, given limited viral transmission over the past couple of years.
"It's harder to predict what the breakout will be this year," he said.
Why should I get the flu shot?
Cennimo said the potential for less than ideal vaccine efficacy should not be a reason for someone to skip the shot.
Even if it fails to protect you from coming down with the flu, Cennimo said, it'll prevent you from suffering a severe case.
Plus, he said, receiving the vaccine is an added layer of protection for your loved ones and individuals you work or play with.
"You just really want to keep these viruses out of circulation as much as possible so that they can't do their bad work," he said.
Ideally, according to the CDC, everyone should be vaccinated for influenza by the end of October.