Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen County Hosts Clinic to Combat Flu

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen County Hosts Clinic to Combat Flu

Article excerpt

HACKENSACK — By most accounts, the Bergen County flu clinic was taking place much later in the season than expected.

The annual flu season normally peaks right after Christmas, according to public health professionals. But this year, the flu season is just peaking with a particularly rough strain that has caught North Jersey residents off-guard. To remind residents it's not too late to get a flu shot, the county hosted its inaugural free flu clinic Monday and Thursday.

"There's a lot of flu cases this year," said Cesar Cuizon, who got the flu shot for the first time in his life. "And I just feel safe getting one."

The flu season is a perennial concern, usually starting as early as October, according to the Center for Disease Control. This year, the season is just starting to peak, leaving many scrambling for flu shots.

"There's been so much flu in Bergen County," said Christina Contillo, one of the nurses administering flu shots. "Usually we don't have flu clinics this late in the season. But we needed to."

Along with being one of the state's latest, this flu season has been one of New Jersey's worst in recent years. In 2018, Hackensack University Medical Center has had 946 cases of the flu or flu-like symptoms, said a spokesperson for the hospital. Last year, during the same time frame, there were only 860 cases. "We're typically seeing more severe illness leading to hospitalizations and unfortunately several deaths," said Karen Wolujewicz, assistant health officer at the county's health services department. "The particular virus that's circulating this season is the cause of increase of severe illness."

One of this season's flu strains has been especially dangerous for younger children. As of Feb. 3, 22.11 percent of those visiting the emergency room are between birth and 4 years old and 15.46 percent of patients admitted to the ER are 5 to 24 years old, according to the state Health Department.

Just five days ago, a 6-year-old North Bergen girl, died from flu-like symptoms. In December, a 4-year-old from Central Jersey also died and is considered this season's first flu-related death in the state. The two children are among dozens of pediatric deaths this flu season nationwide. …

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