States experiencing shortage of drug used to fight flu - WNEM TV 5

States experiencing shortage of drug used to fight flu

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

As the nation is in the midst of a deadly flu outbreak, here's a closer look at one of the key drugs used to fight the virus.

Tamiflu is an anti-viral medication used to treat the flu. It can also lower your chances of getting the flu.

"This is a pretty bad flu season. We've been really busy," said Blake Bonkowski, pharmacy manager at Covenant.

It is the worst flu Mid-Michigan has seen in almost a decade. The only medication that appears to work in fighting the virus is in short supply in some parts of the country.

"Tamiflu prevents the influenza virus or the flu virus from replicating in your body. So it slows it down, allows your body to fight the infection," Bonkowski said.

He said Tamiflu can sometimes cut the length of the flu sickness in half, if you are able to get it.

Multiple states are currently reporting shortages.

"Right now we're doing OK on supply. This year the use always goes up. We have enough in our pharmacy and we will continue to give it to the patients as they need them," Bonkowski said.

Bonkowski and other local pharmacists said Mid-Michigan has enough to get through the flu season. But they warn Tamiflu only works if you take it right away.

Bonkowski said flu patients need to take Tamiflu within 48 hours of symptom onset.

He added there are ways to avoid getting the flu in the first place. First and foremost, wash your hands and remind your friends and coworkers to stay home if they are sick.

"Get your flu vaccine every year. Your doctor of pharmacist can give you the vaccine. Very important, anyone over the age of six months get a shot. That's not too late to get a flu shot this year," Bonkowski said.

The FDA said children and teens with the flu may be at a higher risk for seizures and other abnormal behaviors shortly after taking Tamiflu.

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