Keeping Flu Outbreaks in Check

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Shortages of the flu vaccine nationwide have pharmacists of Thomas Drug Store anticipating this flu season to be worse than last year, so they've taken precautions.

Jennifer Smith, a pharmacist at Thomas Drug Store, says, "We ordered heavily on anti-virals, which help decrease the duration of flu and help decrease symptoms of flu. We stocked up because some years we ran short on that."

No outbreaks have occurred locally and the federal government is trying to get an idea of where flu activity is. The government now gets figures of the sales of certain over the counter drugs used to treat the flu.

Drugs like antihistamines and anti-diarrheal medicines are examples of drugs that will be traced. Some pharmacists say it's a good idea but the government may not necessarily get the data they're looking for.

Al Stone says, "Right now we have a lot of people with allergies and you treat allergies and colds very similar with decongestants, antihistamines cough medicine. If they were tracking the sales of over the counter drugs, I don't know how they would differentiate."

Smith says, "It's because of the shortage, they just want to be on top of outbreaks to be able to warn the public of severe outbreaks."

Health officials say the flu season is getting off to a slow start, but because flu activity is unpredictable, they plan to keep a close eye on the situation.