By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4) – According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu is now widespread in 46 states and this year in Colorado, cases are three-to-four times higher than previous years.

tamiflu shortage 5pkg transfer frame 0 Tamiflu Flying Off The Shelves As Flu Spreads

(credit: CBS)

“We were seeing cases as early as November sporadically, but now it’s definitely at an epidemic phase,” said Dr. Andrew Walshak, Emergency Physician at Presbyterian/St. Lukes (PSL).

tamiflu shortage 5pkg transfer frame 300 Tamiflu Flying Off The Shelves As Flu Spreads

(credit: CBS)

Since October, there have been more than 1500 flu hospitalizations in Colorado.

The CDC says a majority of cases are in patients over 65. Conversely, PSL says it’s seeing an influx of the flu and the rhino virus in younger patients.

LINK: Colorado Flu Report

“A lot of patients are being hospitalized with respiratory illness right now particularly in our pediatric units,” said Dr. Jason Baluwet, Pharmacy Director at PSL.

tamiflu shortage 5pkg transfer frame 480 Tamiflu Flying Off The Shelves As Flu Spreads

Dr. Jason Baluwet (credit: CBS)

Adding to the stress, the uptick in flu cases combined with other respiratory issues, has resulted in a huge demand for anti-viral medication in pharmacies across the state.

“We’re noticing that Tamiflu for instance is flying off the shelves right now,” said Blauwet.

tamiflu shortage 5pkg transfer frame 420 Tamiflu Flying Off The Shelves As Flu Spreads

(credit: CBS)

PSL says it has no fears of running out, but it is bracing for the peak of the flu season which is expected to hit in the next month.

Health experts say the flu season began early this year, and the vaccine has not been as effective treating the most common strain.

tamiflu shortage 5pkg transfer frame 884 Tamiflu Flying Off The Shelves As Flu Spreads

(credit: CBS)

“The flu shot has multiple strains in it so it may not be a perfect match for one strain of flu, and it may be a better match for other strains of flu, but that’s no excuse not to get your flu shot every year,” said Walshak.

He believes one of the reasons the flu is so widespread this year is due to many people opting out of vaccinations.

tamiflu shortage 5pkg transfer frame 1500 Tamiflu Flying Off The Shelves As Flu Spreads

CBS4’s Jamie Leary interviews Dr. Andrew Walshak. (credit: CBS)

“I think it was a lack of confidence in the flu shot. A majority of cases I’m seeing did not get a flu vaccine this year,” he said.

Another cause in the uptick has to do with the early arrival of the flu season. Those who had the flu before the holidays, likely traveled and spread it to relatives across the country.

tamiflu shortage 5pkg transfer frame 1214 Tamiflu Flying Off The Shelves As Flu Spreads

(credit: CBS)

Walshak says a person can be infectious up to a day or two before having symptoms.

“The flu droplets can spread at least three feet away from a person so you and I could be exchanging flu droplets. I hope not, but you get it,” Walshak told CBS4’s Jamie Leary

Walshak says he has been getting the flu vaccine since he was 8 years old and has never had the flu.

“Knock on wood never had the flu even though I work in a very flu laden environment.”

If you have been vaccinated and still get the flu, Walshak says the vaccine can still help lessen the severity and the duration.

“My theory is that the more vaccines you get in a lifetime for the flu, every season, the more you are protected long term,” he said.

Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Denver

Together 4 Colorado
NEWS TEAM
Future Leaders

Watch & Listen LIVE