Tamiflu shortage, long waits for patients with flu symptoms - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Tamiflu shortage, long waits for patients with flu symptoms

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TYLER (KYTX) - The most popular drug used to treat the flu is in high demand and short supply.

And it's happening at a time more and more East Texans are having symptoms.

We're told by some people trying to get in to see a doctor it's a 3 hour wait.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say this looks like it could be the biggest flu season we've had in years, especially in Texas.

And that means the medicine is hard to come by.

"Bone chilling aches, had chills really bad, had a fever," says Brent Zimmerhanzel.

If you've felt like this and tried over the counter medicines without any relief, like Zimmerhanzel, you know the only answer is to see a doctor.

"Had to call around everywhere and all the clinics were completely full, 3 hour wait," says Zimmerhanzel.

Dr. Ryan Mullins with Trinity Clinic at Broadway Commons says the numbers are up, nearly half of the patients being seen in many clinics are reporting flu-like symptoms.

Which means the antidote, Tamiflu, is in short supply.

"Always in really busy years of flu season seem to run short on that. Creates issues for patients and doctors are trying to get creative in trying to figure out which pharmacies have it," says Dr. Mullins.

Even if your doctor prescribes Tamiflu to you, its not easy to find in town. Most pharmacies are running low, and if you need the pediatric version, many are completely out.

"A child 6 month of age, they've never seen the flu before. That's why it can be extremely deadly for them," says Dr. Mullins.

Tamiflu is approved for ages 1 years old and over, and it treats types A and B of the flu, which is why it's the preferred choice.

Another reason the stock is low, it depends how much the maker ships out each year.

"It's been a few years since we've had a really big one, seems like this year is gearing up to be one," says Dr. Mullins.

Zimmerhanzel says he made a mistake this year he won't repeat.

"There's no chance I'm not going to get the flu shot next year," says Zimmerhanzel.

Washing your hands and getting plenty of rest are some of the best ways to stay healthy.

If you already have the symptoms, you need to see a doctor within the first 24 hours if possible.

After 2 or 3 days, there's little they can do for you.

The amount of Tamiflu could change, which means your neighborhood pharmacy that didn't have it today, might have it tomorrow.

Flu season usually peaks in January and February.

The 2011-2012 season peaked late and was mild compared to years past.

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