HENRICO (WRIC) - According to the CDC, Virginia and half of the United States is experiencing widespread flu activity.
"As the flu spreads, more and more people are immune to that strand of the flu so it stops it from spreading," says Dr. David Arkin. "But this year we have two circulating strands."
Due to the large number of flu cases the medicine Tamiflu which is used to reduce the severity of flu symptoms is in short supply.
"If you have a bad case of the flu, you would want to protect the rest of the family by having everybody take Tamiflu," Arkin says. "So you are talking about one person with the flu, but five people are taking Tamiflu because the whole family is taking it."
Pharmacist John Beckner says the supply simply couldn't keep up with the demand.
"A number of pharmacies, including our pharmacy, were put on allocation," he says. That means that we were restricted in the amount of product that we could order. I think what we were seeing is the flu started to hit a little bit earlier this year, demand started to increase."
Arkin says an earlier start flu season unfortunately doesn't mean it will be over earlier. But it is not too late to protect yourself from getting the flu in the first place.
"It is certainly not too late in the season to get a flu shot and protect yourself from getting the flu for the next three months until winter is over."
The main problem with this shortage seems to be with the liquid form of Tamiflu which is mainly prescribed for children who can't take pills.
If your pharmacy does not have Tamiflu, it is likely that another pharmacy in the area would be able to fill your prescription or the pharmacist may be able to convert the pill form to a liquid at no additional costs.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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