ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Flu season is in full swing, and pharmacies are starting to see a high demand for an antiviral drug to treat influenza. The health department calls the antiviral a second defense, but it's still not too late to get your vaccine.
It was a busy day for pharmacist Ed Dozier and his staff at U Save it pharmacy. "Goodness, it's just a little after noon and we've probably had 12 prescriptions so far this morning for Tamiflu, maybe more than that," Dozier said.
Tamiflu is an antiviral drug that health officials say is a second line of defense against the flu. "They have been shown to be very effective if they're taken within the first two days of sick. Because what they also do, they can lessen the length of your flu by one or two days," said Jacqueline Jenkins, District epidemiologist.
"If you've been exposed to the flu or if you come down with symptoms you need to start Tamiflu within the first 48 hours of exposure, or symptoms. It's not that effective if you want more than 48 hours," said Dozier.
But doctors say the antiviral drug is not a substitute for getting a flu vaccine.
"It's still important to get the vaccine, because that's really the best prevention method along with good respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene," Jenkins said.
The Southwest Georgia Public Health District says preventative measures are extremely important as they see more cases of the flu.
"We've seen an elevated number of flu cases in all of our counties. We've had reports of clustering of flu illness among kids and among their families. 14 county wide that we're seeing an uptick in influenza."
And Dozier says they'll make sure to keep plenty of Tamiflu on their shelves. "The flu season runs through March. So you still got a lot of time to catch the flu and a lot of time to help prevent it from coming on."
Monday kicks off national influenza vaccination week. You can get the flu vaccine at your nearby health department or pharmacy.