New Jersey health officials look to boost flu prevention awareness

Posted: Updated:

New Jersey’s top health official announced an effort to boost awareness of how to keep the flu virus from spreading.

The effort comes after two children died from flu-related complications and thousands more are infected.

“Flu is a very severe illness,” says Princeton Medical Center epidemiologist Dr. David Herman. “A lot of people don’t realize, they [say] ‘It’s just the flu.’ But people die from flu every year.”

The latest flu fatality was 6-year-old North Bergen kindergartner Nevaeh Hernandez. The girl died Monday, despite having received a flu shot in December.

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Nevaeh’s family says that they took her to Hoboken University Medical Center over the weekend but she was sent home with a 104-degree fever. The family says her fever went even higher the next day. The family has hired an attorney because they say that they question the care the girl received.

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal urged all parents to be vigilant when it comes to their children and the flu. Elnahal says that sick children should stay home, especially if they have a fever.

“That is for the benefit of the child themselves, the family, and other children who might be exposed,” he says.

Elnahal announced a social media campaign #FightTheFluNJ as a way to remind children and their parents not to spread germs and to get a flu shot. Officials say that despite the flu vaccine not being effective against all strains, it still provides some protection.

Flu season can last into May. Elnahal says that the awareness campaign will last until then.

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