Is the Emergence of COVID-19 Overshadowing US Flu Season?


Segment Description: Christina Tan, MD, MPH, state epidemiologist, assistant commissioner, New Jersey Department of Health, shares what infection prevention measures should be implemented in the wake of COVID-19 and discusses the 2019-20 US flu season.

Interview transcript (modified slightly for readability):

We definitely want to remind all health care facilities to be reviewing their infection control plans, whether in the middle of an emerging infectious disease issue such as COVID, or you know, just kind of routinely just to make sure that they're following infection control guidance and proper protocols. All health care facilities should have plans in place regarding dealing with respiratory illnesses. We have to remind ourselves that every single year we see seasonal flu, we see respiratory illnesses emerge. Keeping those infection control plans in mind and exercising those infection control protocols are really key to not only dealing with the routine, but also a step toward the prevention of emerging issues.

We're always concerned about the emergence of any infectious disease. Currently, we're also very concerned about the emergence of COVID-19, and how that might evolve and might impact what we see circulating in the community. But you know, it's important to know that this COVID-19 emergence is also occurring simultaneous to our regular seasonal influenza. What we're seeing in New Jersey, as well as elsewhere throughout the country, is we are seeing peak activity of influenza right now. January, February is typically around the time that we see peak activity So, this is an opportunity to remind everybody to be mindful that you know, if you haven't gotten your flu vaccine yet, get vaccinated for flu. Take those easy steps. Cover your coughs and sneezes, make sure you wash your hands all the time. Stay home when you're sick. Those types of precautions are helpful not only for seasonal flu, but also for whatever it might be emerging.

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