Old Man Winter is living up to his irascible reputation, so far this year, at least for residents of New Jersey. Besides having to face a recent and nasty deluging Nor’easter, Garden-Staters have been treated to a notably higher than average incidence of flu cases.
Recent statistics from the state’s Department of Health show a total of more than 1500 reported flu-cases. These statistics specifically reflect those cases brought to the attention of the department, beginning in early October, proceeding up to the first week of January. Numbers from the same period of last year were markedly lower, totaling less than 300.
While flu outbreaks are never good, this year’s should be of particular concern to parents, as a high number of the flu-affected appear to be school-age children. A whopping 75% of counties, throughout the state, are noting a higher than usual absentee-rating. In the lead are Cumberland, Salem, Warren and Atlantic Counties. Dr. David Namerow, the founder of Pediatric Care Associates, with branches located throughout the state, affirms the findings, stating; “we’ve had a bunch of kids with flu…fever, chills, headache, cough.” Doctors also concur that the 2017 manifestation of the flu, H3N2, has been making its targets more ill than earlier variants.
The silver lining, amidst the sobering statistics? Doctors continue to advocate vaccinating as the number one way to avoid the flu. In particular, vaccinations are recommended for vulnerable individuals, like children. This particularly applies to children that suffer from chronic illnesses, such as asthma and diabetes. These children are especially in need of the extra protection afforded by vaccinations.
The other important thing to remember is it’s not too late. The CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides guidelines for vaccinating children, noting that there are appropriate options for all ages. And, just like their adult counterparts, children should be vaccinated to protect them against the flu every year.
It’s a relatively sure bet that 2017’s New Jersey flu epidemic isn’t leaving just yet. And while Old Man Winter continues to wage his worst, parents should be encouraging their children to wash their hands, cover their mouths when sneezing, or coughing, and most importantly, getting them vaccinated!