NJ health commissioner urges residents to get flu shots as state prepares for possibility of a ‘twin-demic’

New Jersey Health Commissioner
File photo: New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli on Monday urged residents to get flu shots this fall.

“As we enter the fall season, we are also moving into the flu season. This year we are preparing for the possibility of a twin-demic,” Persichilli said. “A severe flu season and a resurgence of COVID-19 could constrain healthcare resources. Therefore this year, more than ever, it is important that everyone six months of age or older get vaccinated against the flu.”

Persichilli, who was speaking at the governor’s Monday press briefing, said the target for flu vaccination is 70 percent, but that nationally and in New Jersey, less than half of the eligible population receives the flu vaccine.

“This leaves many people vulnerable to the complications of the flu. Getting a yearly flu vaccine helps protect you and those around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies, young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions,” she said. “The flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19. However, the flu vaccine can reduce flu illnesses and hospitalizations.”

The CDC is encouraging residents to get vaccinated by the end of October. It takes two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection, Persichilli said. “That’s why it’s best to get vaccinated before influenza viruses start to spread in your community, she said. “However, residents can be vaccinated any time after the flu virus begins circulating, even after January.”

Doctors, local health departments, federally funded health centers, and pharmacies offer flu vaccines.