Children’s flu medication in short supply in the midst of brutal flu season

Parents could have trouble finding medications for their children
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 6:55 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2022 at 5:54 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Flu cases are up across Alabama and some parents are finding it harder to find the needed medications to treat sick children.

In the latest data from the Alabama Department of Public Health, cases have more than doubled what we typically see during a normal flu season. In 2022, 13 Alabamians died from the flu, including three children. Health leaders warn that children under the age of 5 are at a higher risk of developing flu-related complications.

Tamiflu, an antiviral drug commonly prescribed to treat the flu, serves as one of the few approved flu medicines for children. Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, can also be prescribed as a treatment for the illness. However, Dr. Steffane Battle, a pediatrician with the UAB-Huntsville Regional Campus, says shortages of these medications could spell trouble suffering from common complications.

“The common complications that we see in the little kids, you can have a febrile seizure, you can get secondary pneumonia, secondary ear infections with those bacterial secondary bacterial processes, secondary pneumonia, and secondary ear infection,” Dr. Battle said.

“We would use the antibiotic and if that main antibiotic is short supply, we could be in trouble.”

Dr. Battle says home remedies can help to ease your child’s discomfort but they will not cure their illness.

“I joke and tell my families all the grandma tricks tend to work well so rest hydration, you know humidification in children over one not under one year of age but over one year of age can take honey to help reduce the cough,” she said.

“Vapor Rub, the chicken noodle soup, herbal teas, all those things. But in honestly, yes, rest and tincture of time, are best.”

She adds Tamiflu is only effective if taken within the first 48 hours, but can also be used for prophylaxis.

“If you’ve been exposed to flu, you want to try to reduce your chances of getting it you can take it also within the first 48 hours once a day for 10 days to try to decrease your risk.”

In the midst of the medication shortage, she says parents have called her to let her know they’ve had to drive much further than normal to get their children’s medicine.

Dr. Battle strongly recommends parents and children receive their flu vaccines. Children six months and older are eligible to receive their shots, protecting them from different strains of the flu virus.