Pharmacies Low on Flu Medication as Cases Surge

Flu medication is running low at stores across San Diego County as a surge of people are getting diagnosed with influenza.

About 3,900 flu cases have already been reported this season, nearly 3,300 more cases than at this time last year, at pharmacists are feeling the effects.

Dolores Riggins, a pharmacist at La Mesa Pharmacy said people are waiting hours to get prescriptions filled.

"It’s just busy, a lot of sick people,”Riggins said. “It varies from year to year and some years are pretty bad.”

NBC 7's Danielle Radin explains why this flu season could be the worst one for San Diego County in eight years. 

(Published Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017)

This year is looking like one of those bad years. Eleven people have died from the flu this season.

Pharmacies are seeing over-the-counter medication to treat flu symptoms fly off the shelves, and some stores are running low on stock.

Because of so many diagnoses last week, pharmacies are running low on Tamiflu, a prescription medication used to treat flu symptoms.

“There’s not a lot of options; Tamiflu is pretty much the only thing for the flu," Riggins said. "I mean you can’t use antibiotics because it’s a virus.”

And those that need Tamiflu are sometimes the most vulnerable.

“Some people are more vulnerable than others so in general, they’re the ones taking the Tamiflu or generic brand and in general, very young and very old,” Riggins said.

As cases of the flu increase significantly in San Diego County, Sharp Grossmont Hospital is adding extra measures to treat it. NBC 7's Mackenzie Maynard reports.

(Published Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017)

Pharmacies don't expect the demand to go away anytime soon. Doctors say the height of flu season is expected in January and February.

So for now, pharmacists are asking for patience from their patients as pharmacies prepare for the rest of flu season.

"We’ll probably stock a little more just because you have to anticipate," Riggins said.