"For people in the risk categories, the young, the pregnant, people with diabetes, people over 65, if they do get the flu, it's important to get them on the anti-flu medications," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Saturday.
The flu season has not yet reached its peak, Fauci said, and there is no way to predict where and when flu cases will hit in specific places.
The flu can be dangerous for people in the risk categories, said Fauci, so it's important to get those people to a physician so they can get on medication. He urged people with healthy children to keep them away from people who are sick, and to keep their children home from school if they do become ill.
Although there have been reports that this year's flu vaccine is only about 61 percent effective in fighting the current strain of the flu, it's still wise to have the shot, Fauci said.
"I think we will see a continuation, and I would not be surprised if we continue to see upticks," Fauci said of the epidemic. The vaccine can still help people with many other flu strains that are not prevalent this season, but still remain a danger, and can still help lessen the symptoms of the strain that is going around.
Pharmacies in some markets say they're having some difficulty getting Tamiflu. Further, the medication is expensive, running about $140 a pack, and many people without prescription or health coverage can't afford it.
"We actually went through more Tamiflu the first two weeks of the flu season this year than we did all of last winter," Smith Pharmacy owner Nic Smith, in Little Chute, Wis., told Green Bay's NBC affiliate Channel 26. "We ran out last Saturday and I called several pharmacies and nobody had it," he continued.
“Because we weren’t expecting the flu to be this bad this year, the company just isn’t making enough Tamiflu. So, we are seeing a shortage at all the pharmacies in town as well as Indianapolis,” Gina Games, of JR Pharmacy in Terre Haute, Ind., told CBS and FOX affiliate WTHI.
The owner of Curtis Pharmacy in Washington, Penn., just outside Pittsburgh, told The Observer-Reporter that its pharmacies are “fully stocked” in both the liquid and tablet forms of the medication, but just because it orders the antiviral drug in bulk amounts of three to four dozen packs at once.
Even with that, it's been hard to keep supply ahead of demand, which has been "pretty crazy" in the past few weeks, Erich Cushey told the newspaper.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases