If you're banking on the flu shot to keep you healthy this year, you may want to think again. A report in the New England Journal of medicine says this year's flu vaccine might only be up to 10 percent effective.
With data like this, it’s no surprise that flu cases are seemingly on the rise in central Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Health says they are seeing a higher number of flu cases reported this week compared to the same week last year and the year before. With the recent uptick in flu cases, many central Arkansas pharmacies weren't quite prepared.
THV11 contacted to over 15 pharmacies in Central Arkansas and nearly all of them said they have been struggling to keep Tamiflu in stock.
Pharmacist Ian Seng with Little Rock’s Medicine Man Pharmacy said it seems like the flu has hit hard around the area lately. He said he is surprised with the high demand for Tamiflu he's seen in the last week.
“To stay on top of it we’re going to have to order a good bit of Tamiflu just to keep up with the demand for it,” Seng said. “I’m going to load up an entire shelf with Tamiflu to keep up with it.”
He said both the Little Rock and North Little Rock Medicine Man locations have seen an increase in the demand. Luckily, both are acting fast to get more in stock.
“Order what you can, while you can get it, to stay ahead of the game,” he said.
Other pharmacies in central Arkansas haven't had enough in stock. Cornerstone Pharmacy said they've been getting calls from other pharmacies asking them for Tamiflu. Pharmacy employee, Allie Staton, said they can’t afford to give other pharmacies any Tamiflu right now.
“We need enough to get us through the weekend so unfortunately we can’t loan it out,” Staton said. “It’s just kind flying off the shelves right now faster than we can get it in stock.”
Jennifer Dillaha, Medical Director of Immunizations at the Arkansas Department of Health, said that the department does recommend that patients seek Tamiflu if they are diagnosed with the flu. But she said getting the flu shot, even now, is still the best preventative measure regardless of potential decreased effectiveness.
“The vaccine is not perfect and some people can get the vaccine and still come down with the flu,” said Dillaha. “The great value of getting the vaccine is that even if the person gets the flu, they are more likely to stay out of the hospital and survive it.”
Both Seng and Staton said that if your pharmacy is out of Tamiflu, it is important