By Dr. Lawrence Jones II
Since October, early increases in seasonal influenza activity have accelerated nationwide. CDC (November 12, 2022) reports that "the southeastern and south-central areas of the country are reporting the highest levels of activity followed by the Mid-Atlantic and the south-central West Coast regions." Twenter (November 4, 2022) prescriptions for Tamiflu (oseltamivir), a popular influenza antiviral, are higher this year than for the last nine flu seasons. The flu season typically peaks in the winter months.
But Americans are at risk of contracting the flu virus during most of the year. Flu season tends to increase since collectively, people will congregate indoors and in more proximity. Of course, Covid-19 will still be on the radar. When Covid-19 hit our society, Tamiflu was a drug of choice before a reliable antiviral could be identified and used for people with Covid-19.CDC (2022) adds that antiviral treatment works best when started soon after the flu illness begins. When treatment starts within two days of becoming sick with flu symptoms, antiviral drugs can lessen fever and flu symptoms and shorten the time you are disgusted by about one day.
They also may reduce the risk of complications such as ear infections in children, respiratory complications requiring antibiotics, and hospitalization in adults. For people at higher risk of severe flu complications, early treatment with an antiviral drug can mean having a milder illness instead of a more severe infection that might require a hospital stay. Twenter (November 4, 2022) reports that strikingly, from a nationwide perspective, "filled prescriptions for Tamiflu are 11.5 times higher compared to last year when they accounted for 0.02 percent of fills. As of November 1, the fill rate is at 0.33 percent, a 65 percent increase compared to last year's flu season's peak."
The CDC reports that the week ending October 29 saw a flu positivity rate up 0.5 percentage points across the U.S., with the Southeast and South reporting the highest activity levels. Landman (November 12, 2022) more than five times as many folks have been hospitalized for the flu this season compared to all of the flu seasons at this calendar time in the last decade. The severity of the flu disease affects people of all ages. So the Narrative Matters!
CDC. (November 12, 2022). Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report. Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report | CDC
CDC. (2022). What You Should Know About Flu Antiviral Drugs. What You Should Know About Flu Antiviral Drugs | CDC
Cisneros, T. and van Mejgaard, J. (November 7, 2022). Live Updates: Tracking Tamiflu Fills During the 2022-2023 Flu Season. Live Updates: Tracking This Year’s Flu Season - GoodRx
FDA. (November 14, 2017). Tamiflu: Consumer Questions and Answers. Tamiflu: Consumer Questions and Answers |FDA
Landman, K. (Novemebr 12, 2022). This flu season is looking really scary, in one chart. The 2022-2023 flu season is on tract to be very, very bad-Vox
Swetlitz, I. and Milton, I (November 9, 2022).Tamiflu Supplies Are Seen Limited in Fast Start to Flu Season. Tamiflu Influenza Treatment Supplies Are Limited in Fast Start to Flu Season - Bloomberg
Twenter, P. (November 4, 2022). Common flu drug in high demand. Common flu drug in high demand (beckershospitalreview.com)
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