'TWINDEMIC': Health officials worry about winter with flu and coronavirus

Health officials are warning of a looming "twindemic" due to a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic and the possibility of a severe flu season.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says that scenario could strain health care resources. 

At a news conference on Monday, she pleaded with people to get a flu vaccination as soon as possible.  Persichilli says anyone over the age of 6 months should get the vaccine.

New Jersey has a target of 70 percent of people getting the vaccine to help control any outbreaks but the numbers traditionally fall well short of that mark.

"Nationally, and in New Jersey, less than half the eligible population receive the flu vaccine," Persichilli warned.  "This leaves many people vulnerable to the complications of the flu."

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She says that while the flu vaccine will not protect people from COVID-19, it can reduce flu illnesses and hospitalizations, freeing up resources for coronavirus cases.

September and October are good months to get the vaccination, according to Persichilli because it takes two weeks for the antibodies to develop and provide protection against the influenza virus.  Flu season runs from October to May with most cases in late December into early March.

New Jersey has reported 14,245 coronavirus deaths this year.   The state traditionally has fewer than 1,500 flu deaths a year, according to government statistics.

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