COVID-RSV-Flu surge causes medicine shortages, especially for children

Empty shelves, packed waiting rooms filling hospital beds — flu, Covid and RSV continue to strain the health care system and the patients who need it.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see him stuck with IVs and cords and monitors and oxygen,” said Alyssa Rogers, whose son is hospitalized with RSV. “She’s struggling to breathe, to sleep, to eat. I mean, the poor thing’s lost her voice because she’s crying so much, she can’t even really cry.”

In Chicago, hospital pharmacist Sterling Elliott worries about young patients who need Tamiflu, amoxicillin or liquid versions of over-the-counter fever relievers like Tylenol or Motrin. All very hard to come by at the moment.

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“These are children whose dosing is weight-based, and so the liquid formulation is really the best way to get a patient a true, weight-based dose,” Elliott said. “We’re calling from wholesaler to wholesaler to see if we can get the product for patients.”

Sally Chia, a pharmacist in Las Vegas, said her wholesaler told her it would take a month to restock the antiviral Tamiflu.

In Indiana and Arizona, providers are urging the public to avoid emergency rooms if possible.

“They literally have a patient, deliver them to the hospital after treatment, and then have to come back from there,” Chia said. “It’s certainly affected hospital operations, emergency departments, in-patient bed availability, it’s increased over and over again.”

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The latest Health and Human Services data show that US hospital beds are about 77% full.

The CDC’s most recent flu report shows that nearly 26,000 people were hospitalized with the flu in the week after Thanksgiving, and they expect cases to increase after the December holiday.

The CDC believes RSV cases peaked in the South and Southeast and leveled off in the Mid-Atlantic, New England, and Midwest. The RSV season usually ends around February.

In case of covid, hospitalizations are increasing. In California, the number of Covid hospitalizations increased by 150% in one month.

According to the CDC, current community transmission of the virus has increased since Halloween and is now high for most of the country.

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Many health experts are pushing updated COVID-19 and flu shots, and some are recommending masks. But not everyone is jumping on board again. Some people say they’ve gotten used to not wearing one and won’t do it again, while others say they feel safer wearing one when viruses are spreading at high rates.

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