Tamiflu still available in West Mich., at least for now

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Tamiflu should be on West Michigan pharmacy shelves right now, but one pharmacist said he’s not sure if that will be the case for the entire flu season.

The flu is now officially at pandemic levels across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  There are more than 800 cases in Kent County, and more than 600 in Kalamazoo County.  A number that Kalamazoo County officials described as “abnormally high.”

Kay Pharmacy owner and pharmacist, Mike Koelzer, told 24 Hour News 8 his pharmacy has plenty of Tamiflu on the shelves right now for those who wish to lessen flu symptoms, and shorten the flu’s duration, but that could change.

“We’re hearing it differently a couple weeks ago we were out [of Tamiflu] pharmacies were out. Then it came through that the supply was back, and we were seeing it back. We still have it on our shelves, but when we go to order it from our wholesaler they give you a warning that they say that they’re allocating it,” said Koelzer. “They’re going to sell you about as much as you have used in the past and what our average is – so if I go and try to buy ten times as much as we usually buy they’re going to drop that down to what I normally get because they know that somewhere in that system there’s some hoarding being attempted.”

Koelzer also hastened to say that Tamiflu isn’t magic.

‘Tamiflu itself is not a miracle drug you have to [take] it within 48 hours, and sometimes you don’t even really know you’re sick until 48 hours has gone by and then it might decrease the symptoms a little bit, make it not quite as damaging to someone who’s younger or an older person,” said Koelzer.

The CDC recommends that people who are more at risk for complications with the flu take Tamiflu as quickly as possible, like those 65 and older, or the very young.

Koelzer did stress preventative measures as being even more effective than something like Tamiflu later.

“Tamiflu is there. The flu shot is there, but sometimes just good old fashioned taking care of your self is the best medicine,” said Koelzer.

“Unfortunately, in the winter, no matter what we do we’re gonna be together and so I think things like keeping your nasal passages and that with a humidifier as much as possible keeping that healthy fluids help, just being healthy trying to stay healthy is good,” said Koelzer.  “Truly keeping your hands away from your nose and your eyes – those are the passages that it goes into the most, and then also shaking hands so we have to fist bump now.”

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