Trends Suggest Flu Season May Be Waning In Oklahoma

Thursday, February 7th 2013, 10:11 pm
By: Tess Maune

The flu season struck Oklahoma about two months earlier than normal this year.

So, it got us asking, "Is the worst of it over?"

Oklahoma was one of the first states to report flu activity and that was back in September.

The bad news is flu season can stretch all the way into May. The good news, though, is there are already signs that the peak has passed.

The shelves are fully stocked at Economy Pharmacy. It's a far cry from the chaos that ensued in December and January, when pharmacies were scrambling to keep up with the demand for medicine, specifically Tamiflu.

"It will decrease the severity of the flu and shorten the duration of how long you would be sick," Pharmacist Chris Schiller said.

2/7/2013 Related Story: Flu Kills 2 More In Tulsa County, 6 More Across Oklahoma

Schiller said medicine was also in short supply, because doctors will prescribe to other members of the family to help prevent them from catching the bug, as well.

There was a period in January when the pharmacy was filling as many as 50 prescriptions of Tamiflu a day, but since, that number has significantly dropped.

"We're still doing a lot, but not as much as we were a couple weeks ago," Schiller said.

He said that's good a sign, because it means fewer people are out spreading the virus, which points to a possible end to the season.

Plus, the eastern part of the nation is trending in a way that leads Kaitlin Snider, with the Tulsa Health Department, to believe the virus may be weakening.

"What they're seeing on the east coast is that cases are starting to decline, so we're certainly hopeful that - here in Tulsa - that we're going to see that trend continue into Oklahoma over the next couple of weeks," Snider said.

But she was quick to say it's too soon to assume anything, because the flu is unpredictable and could hang around a while longer.

"We may continue to see widespread flu activity for several weeks to several months, but we are certainly hopeful that it's going to start tapering off," Snider said.

Pharmacists say the children's version of Tamiflu is still in short supply. Right now, compounding pharmacies, like Economy Pharmacy, are the best bet for finding the medicine. There, the adult dosage of the flu drug is compounded into to a safe portion for kids.