Thanks to COVID-19 precautions, NJ may not get a real flu season
This is usually the time of year when we start to see an increase the number of influenza cases in New Jersey, which is why health officials had been worried about a "twindemic" of coronavirus plus flu.
But so far that has not happened and there are predictions this could turn out to be one of the most mild flu seasons ever recorded.
Dr. Ashwin Jathavedam, the chief of infectious disease for Englewood Health pointed out that Australia's usual flu season would have 250,000 confirmed laboratory influenza cases but their latest pandemic-era flu season ended with about 25,000.
"They’re attributing this to a lot of the measures that were put in place for COVID, meaning the distancing, masking, the increased adherence to hand washing," Jathavedam said.
He pointed out influenza spreads in similar ways to the coronavirus, so it makes sense if someone wearing a mask coughs or sneezes, "they reduce the amount of virus that’s shed in droplets."
Australia also saw an increase in flu vaccination rates.
"I’m hoping we see something similar for us," he said. "The last thing we all need on top of what we’re dealing with in terms of the pandemic. A bad flu season on top of what we’re dealing with in terms of the pandemic would really strain our healthcare system."
He stressed masking, social distancing and hand-washing coupled with getting a flu shot is the best way to lower your influenza risk.