North Texas pharmacies struggling to keep Tamiflu in stock

Pharmacies across North Texas are struggling to keep Tamiflu in stock as the flu season hits hard.

The CD recently identified Texas as having one of the largest spikes in flu cases in the country.

One of the largest pharmacies in Tarrant county almost ran out of Tamiflu last week. And one emergency room is even increasing staff just to deal with the number of people sick with the flu.

Tarrant County saw more than 1,100 cases of the flu the week before Christmas. That was more than last year and the year before. JPS says it's pharmacy saw an unprecedented run on Tamiflu.

 When one out of every four patients were coming into the JPS Hospital's Pharmacy for Tamiflu prescriptions last week, Chief Pharmacist Nicole Shoquist knew it was only a matter of time until they ran out. So she quickly called one of the wholesale suppliers.

"And they had to ship some in via flight in an emergency on Saturday because we had run completely out of stock,” she said.

It was enough to treat 72 patients. It got them through New Year's weekend. Last week, JPS says flu prescriptions quadrupled compared to the beginning of December.

"I've been at JPS almost 10 years,” Shoquist said. “And it's the first time we've ever had to do that."

Russell Jones isn't surprised at the run on Tamiflu. The epidemiologist with Tarrant County Public Health says this Flu outbreak is the worst it's been in three years and is only going to get worse. Cases are likely to spike again as kids are going back to school after the winter break.

"It's cold. Everyone's together. You get someone with the sniffles, and flu is so infectious,” Jones said. “It's easily transmitted to another person."

Jones also says the best prevention is still to get the flu shot.

Cook Children's Medical Center is also reporting high numbers of patients with the flu. They’ve seen such a spike, it has increased its staff in the emergency room so wait times don't increase.

"Sneeze into your sleeve,” Shoquist said. “If you're sick, please stay home. If your kids are running a fever, please do not send them to school."

Dallas County has reported six flu-related deaths so far. Tarrant County has not reported any, but it doesn't require its facilities to report the number after the state also dropped the requirements.

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