The season for sniffling and sneezing is here and while noses are running, people are also running to their local health departments and pharmacies to be vaccinated against influenza.
John Wozniak, health officer for Montville Township, said that while the number of flu cases seems to be higher than at this time last year, the number of people hospitalized for flu lowered this week.
"I think a lot of it has to do with the virulance, the strength of the strain of flu which is out there. It may be more easily transferable than what you had last year," he said.
Deaths caused by influenza in 2013 reached epidemic levels late last week, according to a report in the New York Times, but the government-run Center for Disease Control (CDC) says it may have peaked.
Either way, the organization says those who have yet to receive a flu shot should still do so, as the current outbreak continues to work its way through the country. The height of flu season is February, according to the CDC.
What's causing the uptick?
"The warmer weather may have people out more than what they were last year," Wozniak said.
When flu symptoms begin, Wozniak said there is about a 48-hour window before the virus fully kicks in. Remedies like chamomile tea may work, but Wozniak said when a person contracts influenza, they'll likely experience it in its total effect.
"Usually with the flu its usually a relatively quick onset. Colds take more time to manifest," he said.
The current strand of influenza ravaging the nation has claimed the lives of 20 children, the New York Times reported, but Wozniak said the most common vaccine on the market is about 62 percent effective against it.
"The match for the vaccine is supposedly very good now for what is circulating," he said.
The Montville Township Health Department already gave out 500 vaccines this year and is not planning to offer another clinic.
Wozniak did direct Montville residents to use the Flue Vaccine Finder website, which shows Walgreens and A&P, both on Myrtle Avenue in Boonton, as the closest places to get the vaccine.
To read tips from the CDC on how to stay healthy and potentially prevent being infected by the flu, click here.