Local drugstore runs out of medicine as flu season worsens

Walker’s Drug Store on Ardrey Kell Road in South Charlotte has run out of the liquid version of Tamiflu, the medicine children take to fight the flu, so they’re making their own.

“You don’t want to be fighting your child to take a medicine. It’s much easier if we can flavor it and all that,” said pharmacist Jeff Lemelin.

The flu is so bad that DoctorsReport.com gives Charlotte, Concord and Gastonia combined a 9.5 out of 10 on its severity scale, making it one of the worst places in the country for the most flu cases this season.

“I don’t know if it’s the schools or the close contact, but seems like a lot of young people are getting the flu,” Lemelin said.

Lemelin says this is the worst flu season he’s seen in almost 10 years.

RELATED: 17 new flu deaths reported, bringing NC total to 165 this season

On Thursday, the CDC released new numbers that show the flu vaccine is about 36% effective this season and about 59% effective for children 6 months to eight years old.

“If you catch it in the first couple of days, you can use Tamiflu. It’s not going to stop it but it’s going to decrease the duration,” Lemlin said.

Some family members have been coming to the pharmacy and getting extra doses of Tamiflu. If one person is sick, they want to try and keep the other family members from getting the flu.

Dr. Anu Neelakanta with Atrium Health says the flu is bad this year because of the particular predominant strain, H3N2, and because the vaccine isn’t as effective this year.

And the doctor says don’t let this nice weather fool you into thinking the flu will fizzle out.

“There’s still a lot of circulating virus in the community so it takes time and the weather is not warm for a long period of time so there is fluctuation,” Dr. Neelakanta said.

It’s not too late to get the flu shot, and the doctor says it’s still the best way to prevent getting the virus.

“Even though it’s not 100 percent effective, it definitely reduces the severity of illness.”