NEW JERSEY – The New Jersey Department of Health is reminding residents that everyone six months of age and older is recommended to receive a yearly flu vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend flu vaccination preferably by the end of October since flu activity could surge this season due to increased travel and the return of more in-person activities.
“The risk of both flu and COVID-19 spreading this winter can place an additional burden on hospitals and frontline healthcare professionals,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. “Flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time. Taking advantage of this opportunity could help to reduce serious illnesses, keep our residents healthy, and save lives.”
Flu vaccination prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. Despite these benefits, only about half of New Jersey residents ages 18 and older received their flu vaccine during the 2020-2021 season. Additionally, disparities in race were seen both nationally and in New Jersey with black individuals ages six months and older having the lowest vaccination coverage (approximately 43 percent) as compared to other race and ethnicities. Increases in coverage from the prior year were seen among New Jersey adults 65 and older (77.8 percent) and those ages 18-64 with high-risk health conditions (55.5 percent).
Although flu vaccination is recommended for everyone ages six months and older, certain people are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu. Those at high risk include:
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old;
- People 65 years of age and older;
- Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after end of pregnancy;
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives;
- People who have medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.
Flu vaccination should also be a priority for persons who live with or care for individuals at higher risk for influenza-related complications. This includes healthcare personnel and household contacts of children less than six months of age, since these children are too young to receive the flu vaccine.
The Department is collaborating with the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey for its Power to Protect NJ statewide flu campaign to encourage residents to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others. The campaign includes posters, frequently asked questions, videos, and images that can be shared on social media.
“The flu vaccine is safe, effective and widely available,” said Commissioner Persichilli. “This campaign is a reminder that each of us has the POWER TO PROTECT ourselves, our families, and our communities by getting vaccinated.”
The Department currently has two other initiatives to help promote flu prevention among other health and community partners, the New Jersey Influenza Honor Roll and the NJ College & University Flu Challenge. The Honor Roll recognizes institutions that encourage and promote flu prevention within their communities across the state. There are four eligible categories to participate: businesses, community-based organizations, institutions of education and healthcare facilities. The Flu Challenge is a separate initiative designed to engage college students in a friendly competition to improve flu vaccination coverage on their campuses.
For more information about influenza, visit the health department’s flu website.