black mulberry clutch bag High flu rate could strain pharmacies
With 49 states classified as having “widespread” flu activity, and 39 children across the country having died from the flu, the Centers for Disease Control is calling this season the worst in a decade.
Matt Windham, a pharmacist at Belew Drugs, says he has filled around three times more flu related prescriptions this season than in years past.
“Anything over the counter that is a preventative like Sambucol, elderbery products they’re sold out,” Windham said. “We just can’t source them, unless you go to Amazon, that’s about the only place you can find them.”
MORE: UTMC reports 3 flu related deaths so far this season
Windham said the pharmacy had a low supply of Tamiflu and its generic counterpart earlier this month, and had to obtain the prescription drug from a secondary wholesaler. The pharmacy is well stocked now.
“Right now we are able to meet the demand, but if it continues, that’s yet to be seen,” Windham said. “We’re going to aggressively try and order so we can take care of people without going overboard, of course.”
Health experts note this year’s flu vaccine has not been very effective preventing flu from the H3N2 strain of the virus. However, leaders at UT Medical Center say that are seeing more cases of a flu strain the vaccine does protect against.
“We’re starting to see a little bit of the H1 flu,” Jennifer Radtke, UTMC manager of infection prevention, said. “That’s very well covered by the flu vaccine, so for people who are vaccinated, if we start to see more of that circulating, they’re not going to get sick from it.”
Radtke said if you begin to have flu symptoms, see a health care provider sooner rather than later.
Although the flu season is now full swing, Radtke said it’s still not too late to get vaccinated.
“It’s always good to get your flu shot no matter when in the season, because within about two weeks, you become immune to the strains of flu that are covered by that vaccine,” Radtke said.
Windham said with over the counter preventative drugs harder to get ahold of, standard prevention steps are even more important.
“With lack of options over the counter to do that, you’ve got to rely on preventatives like washing your hands really well and avoiding touching your face and mouth and being more conscious about your surroundings and avoiding sick people,” Windham said.