⭕ Health officials brace for a post-holiday spike in respiratory viruses

⭕ Flu, RSV and COVID cases are rising in NJ

⭕ Fewer people are getting vaccination protection

As you gathered with friends and family for the holidays, how many people were sick?

State and federal health officials are bracing for a sharp rise in respiratory illnesses and new COVID cases as folks return home from holiday gatherings.

Viruses are more easily spread in closed spaces, and if anyone in your gatherings were ill, there's a good chance you could get whatever they had.

“Folks are traveling a lot more this season. They want to see their families,” said the CDC's Dr. Manisha Patel. "And all of that sort of adds to the mix” in the spread of viruses.

New Jersey has already seen a rise in flu, RSV and COVID cases.

Flu cases rising in NJ

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported High levels of flu-like illnesses in 17 states, including New Jersey.

New York City was elevated to Very High.

CDC/Townsquare Media illustration
CDC/Townsquare Media illustration

While early signs suggest current flu vaccines are well-matched to the strain that is causing the most illnesses, far fewer people have gotten a flu shot this season.

Doctors say it is not too late.

Less than 50% of all U.S. adults have received a flu shot so far this year.

RSV cases

Americans may be suffering from vaccination fatigue, tired of the relentless pressure to "get vaccinated."

Just 17% of adults 60 and older have received new shots against RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus.

RSV is a common cause of mild cold-like symptoms but it can be dangerous for infants and older people.

Another COVID mutation

Almost from the beginning, the coronavirus that causes COVID started mutating. There have been dozens of versions detected.

COVID transmission rates are considered Moderate in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties.

This latest variation, known as JN.1, was first detected in the U.S. in September and now accounts for an estimated 20% of all cases.

The CDC expects it to reach 50% in the next two weeks, according to the CDC.

CDC/Townsquare Media illustration
CDC/Townsquare Media illustration

While there is no evidence that this strain causes a more severe illness, it appears to spread more easily and has developed ways to evade immunity.

Current evidence indicates vaccines and antiviral medications work against JN.1.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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