Flu season complicated by fleeting supplies of Tamiflu

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It seems flu season is not slowing down and the one medication that helps is in short supply. Tamiflu, the magical pill that decreases the symptoms of the flu and shortens its duration, is becoming a more scarce resource these days.

“We may order it one day and get it, and then the next day not get it,” pharmacist John Shafer said.

Shafer said the fluctuating supply is the result of manufacturer supply versus demand, especially with a seasonal medication like Tamiflu.

“They don’t want to over do it from a financial perspective, so if they don’t guess correctly, there is going to be a shortage,” he said.

Medical experts say one reason for the shortage is because some people who have it prescribed don’t need to take it. Otherwise healthy people can ride out the flu.

“It is an important medication for those who have a weakened immune system. Everyone is getting Tamiflu written because they want to feel better sooner,” Dr. Michael Shafe with The Urgency Room said.

This has been a brutal flu season and one reason is that the virus is easily passed in close quarters. Dr. Shafe advises if a family member gets sick to keep them away from other people and have one person tend to them.

“When you are helping someone, bringing them food, wash hands before and after. Try not to let them cough or sneeze near you,” he said.

Washing your hands is quite important because the flu virus is spread through microscopic droplets. Dr. Shafe says it takes 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to take effect, so at this point, prevention is the best way to avoid getting the flu.

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