NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Flu season is well underway, and having claimed the life of a four year old New Jersey girl, it's poised to be one of the worst in years. 

But there's one weapon in your arsenal against this year's flu season; the flu vaccine. 

To drive that point home, NJ Principal Deputy Commissioner of Health Jackie Cornell went to the Eric B. Chandler Health Center in New Brunswick on Wednesday, Jan 31 to get vaccinated.

Sign Up for E-News

Getting vaccinated against the flu, according to Cornell, is especially important for those with weaker immune system, namely young children and the elderly. Caregivers for those ages groups, be it parents, nurses and doctors, are also at a higher risk. 

The effectiveness of the vaccine depends on knowing what strain of the flu someone has, so that a vaccine could be given to counter the specific strain. This season, the flu shots have been designed to go after multiple strains at once.

“The flu shot is multi-strain so it includes effectiveness for several different strains," Cornell said. "On the high end it’s 60 percent effective, on the low end it’s 30 percent dependent on the strain of flu you have.”

Cornell added: "The vaccine is still more effective than not getting it. Think of the vaccine as building up a fence and some fence is better than none.”

People can get vaccinated for free or at a reduced scale at the Eric B. Chandler Health Center, Robert Wood Johnson hospital, and different pharmacies.

Some handy tips to keep in mind to prevent the flu are: 

  • Stay home when you're sick 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it when you can’t wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth as much as possible.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw away your used tissue.
  • Get regular exercise, enough rest, and eat healthy, balanced meals.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Don’t shake hands, bump fists or elbows instead.

Common flu symptoms include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Reporter Autumn Oberkehr, aoberkehr@tapinto.net, twitter.com/AutumnOberkehr