The New Jersey Department of Health is honoring National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) by reminding residents to get their annual flu vaccine. Flu vaccination rates tend to decrease after the end of November, but flu activity is usually highest between December and January. Get vaccinated now to help protect yourself and others during the holiday season.

“Even if you haven’t yet been vaccinated and have already gotten sick with flu, you can still benefit from vaccination since the flu vaccine protects against three or four different flu viruses, depending on the type of vaccine you receive,” Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said. “Flu vaccination can reduce doctor visits, pneumonia, missed work and school due to illness, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.”

The Department has two ongoing initiatives to promote flu prevention. The New Jersey Influenza Honor Roll recognizes institutions that are striving to promote influenza prevention at their facilities. It is open to four categories of honorees: business, community-based partners, education, and new this year - healthcare facilities. In addition, the Department is challenging students at 11 participating colleges and universities to engage in a friendly competition to improve flu vaccination coverage on their campuses through the New Jersey College & University Flu Challenge.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu. Those 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 those persons who live with or care for persons at higher risk for influenza-related complications. This includes healthcare personnel and household contacts of children less than 6 months of age, since these children are too young to receive the flu vaccine.

For the 2018-19 flu season, the CDC has renewed its recommendation for the use of the Live, Attenuated, Influenza Vaccine, more commonly known as the nasal spray vaccine. There is no preference for any vaccine product. Healthcare providers may choose to administer any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine. Click here for information about different types of flu vaccines.

Flu vaccines are safe, effective and offered in many locations including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, urgent care centers and pharmacies.

Throughout the fall, Department staff visited community health centers, hospitals and local health departments across the state to promote vaccination and illustrate the importance of this preventive measure.

In October, Commissioner Elnahal received an influenza vaccination at Henry J. Austin Health Center in Trenton. Chief of Staff Andrea Martinez-Mejia, Principal Deputy Commissioner Jackie Cornell and Deputy Commissioners Deborah Hartel and Marcela Maziarz also visited health centers and college clinics to receive their influenza vaccination.

For more information about influenza, including where to find vaccine, visit the Department’s flu website: https://nj.gov/health/cd/topics/flu.shtml.

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