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Arkansans seeing shortage of flu, strep medicine as cases rise

The antibiotic shortage is still going on, making it harder to treat common conditions like strep throat— and now there have been issues getting flu medicines too.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Right in the middle of cold and flu season, some Arkansans have had trouble getting the medicines they need to feel better as shortages persist in some antibiotics and flu treatments.

"Over the last couple of weeks, we've had a shortage of lots of different medications," said Anne Pace, owner and pharmacist at Kavanaugh Pharmacy.

Alongside general shortages, Pace said that she's especially struggling to meet the demand of flu patients.

"There's definitely been a shortage of Tamiflu, whether it's the capsules, the liquid for kids has been super hard to get... it's a struggle every day to make sure that we can get it in stock," Pace added.

There are no guarantees on when the situation will improve, but for now, Pace said that the pharmacy is prioritizing children and at-risk adults, as well as people with symptoms.

"Not as much preventative, more just treating because there is a short supply... I had a child yesterday who had flu plus RSV, and so I called another pharmacy and was able to borrow some from them," Pace explained.

Another pill Xofluza is in stock but isn't as accessible as other flu medications, Pace adding, "It's a lot more expensive, not all insurances cover it... So it's not as easy for patients to get that one."

Even as pharmacies work to keep medicine available, Kavanaugh Pharmacy emphasized that the first step to good health is prevention.

"It's not too late. It is never too late honestly, to get your flu shot," Pace said.

Dr. Rawle Seupaul in Emergency Medicine at UAMS has the same advice when it comes to COVID vaccines, sharing that, "...getting those boosters helps to minimize disease, prevent disease and keep those that you're around safer."

But the doctor's orders still include family time over the holiday season, just with safety in mind.

"We are in a different place today than we were a year ago, two years ago or three years ago when it comes to the pandemic, we're far more informed [now]... We have vaccines, and I think people know how to stay safe," Seupaul said.

And Pace emphasized the bottom line is that pharmacies will continue working to help you, even if some drugs are tougher to find.

"There may be a shortage and maybe a slight delay in treatment, but whatever pharmacy you go to, we're doing our very best to get you your medication as quickly as possible," Pace said.

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