Area pharmacies out of Tamiflu due to high demand

As flu cases mount, Tamiflu availability shrinks

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Has it hit your home yet?

The flu continues to be active across the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu is widespread in 30 states, including Kentucky and Indiana. Increased demand due to the severe flu season has led to local shortages of flu medications.

Tamiflu, or the generic version, is an antiviral medication used to treat flu symptoms caused by the influenza virus in patients who have had symptoms for fewer than two days. It’s also given to prevent influenza in people who may be exposed but do not yet have symptoms.

Generally, the liquid version is for kids, and the pill form is for adults. Some parents have told WAVE 3 News that they had to go to several different pharmacies because places are running out or running low on Tamiflu. That’s even more stress and wasted time because doctors say that Tamiflu only helps if it’s taken in the first 48 hours of getting flu symptoms.

“The Tamiflu can be hard to find when we have a couple of hundred cases in an area in a short period of time because the pharmacies only have a certain supply,” Dr. Jill Howell-Berg, from Norton Children’s Clarksville, said. “Hopefully they will be able to get more, but we are seeing this across the country.”

Katie Hagmann’s two kids have the flu.

“The first pharmacy we went to, I know we have to use CVS with our insurance, they had to call a couple places to find it for both of them,” Hagmann said. “But, we did end up getting it the same day just had to go to two different pharmacies.”

WAVE 3 News called a few pharmacies in Louisville on Monday and some said they had Tamiflu in stock, a few said they were out completely or only had a few more left because of the high demand. Your best bet is to call your area pharmacies to see if they have it in stock.

If it’s hard to find, and you are wasting time trying to find it, that’s an added stress because there is a window of when you can take it.

“Tamiflu stops the flu from replicating further in your body,” Howell-Berg said. “It works best when we use it in the first 48 hours when the flu hasn’t reached the peak amount in the body keeps that virus from further replicating.”

Howell-Berg warned that one out of 10 children end up with another infection on top of the flu, like an ear infection, strep, or pneumonia.

Hagmann said she hopes that her kids will be on the mend soon.

“Hopefully nothing else pops up,” she said. “I’m just praying that our entire family stays well and we are done with flu for the year.”

If your kids are taking the liquid form of Tamiflu, be forewarned that it does not taste good and some kids have a hard time taking it. A helpful tip doctors share is to mix it with either chocolate or strawberry syrup to mask the taste.

Side effects of Tamiflu include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, nosebleed, eye redness or discomfort, sleep problems (insomnia), or cough or other respiratory problems.

The flu itself or Tamiflu may rarely cause serious mental/mood changes. This may be more likely in children. Tell your doctor of any signs of unusual behavior, including confusion, agitation, or self-injury.

Late last year, the FDA approved a new, faster-acting, single-dose flu drug, but because it’s so new, some places don’t keep it in stock, and doctors are still learning about it and therefore aren’t prescribing it.

If you or your child has the flu, but you are not experiencing any of these signs of a medical emergency, it is very unlikely that you need to go to the emergency room. There are certain times when a person with the flu does need to seek emergency medical treatment. Watch for these signs of an emergency when you have the flu:

-Difficulty breathing

-Shortness of breath

-Chest pain or severe abdominal pain

-Confusion

-Sudden dizziness

-Severe vomiting or vomiting that won’t stop

If you aren’t sure if you have the flu or a cold, click here.

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