NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The drug used to treat the flu is flying off local pharmacy shelves.
New Orleans pharmacist Scott Beninato says just in the last two weeks there has been a significant increase in the demand for Tamiflu. He's had to order a bigger shipment to keep up with sick patients who need the drug.
"We've heard that some of the chains can't get it, so people have been coming here instead," said Beninato. "Especially the liquid for the kids. One woman, she was panicking because she couldn't find it anywhere. I said, 'I got a bottle. Come on over.'"
The Emergency Room Director at Children's Hospital in New Orleans says he's also seen a big uptick in flu cases.
"I think the biggest problem this year is it turns out the flu shot this year is not as effective as it has been other years, so people are still prone to getting it. So it's still really, really important to make sure you're doing good hand washing to try to prevent getting the flu in the first place," said Children's Hospital ER Director Dr. Aaron Thompson, M.D.
And, he says it will more than likely get worse before it gets better.
"Anytime it's cold outside, people tend to stay indoors. And when you are in close proximity to anyone, you tend to share all your germs, including the flu virus."
Thompson says they're prescribing a lot of Tamiflu right now because it's the only medicine that helps with the virus. But, he says you need to take it within the first 48 hours of getting sick for it to be effective.
Beninato recommends calling your pharmacy first to make sure they have it in stock before you head out the door.
"It's an effective drug if it's done within the first 24 hours or so, it definitely helps," said Beninato.
Thompson says if you are running a fever you should stay home to help prevent the spread of the virus.
He adds Tamiflu only shortens the illness by about a day but it can help prevent complications from the Flu.