The flu season is hitting early and hard for many areas, especially Bluffton, where the demand is high for the vaccine but the supply is low.
Several pharmacies and clinics within the Bluffton area are either out or low on stock, but doctors are optimistic that the season has peaked and the worst has come.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control reports the number of patients with influenza like illness dropped in late December. Dr. Scott Cummings with Palmetto Medical says that could be the result of kids being out of school, but it is bound to jump back up with the contagious strand that is spreading. With an early flu season, Dr. Cummings gave out nearly 1,500 doses and has more on the way. For Cummings, what is more worrisome is pharmacies may soon run short on Tamiflu, a drug that diminishes flu symptoms in one to three days.
"They have been allocating the Tamiflu," said Palmetto Medical Dr. Scott Cummings. "They are trying to pick select sick people to try and get that. They are trying to help the younger people and older, not recommending using is prolifically, reserving it for those who need it. People can ride it out with or without the vaccine within four to five days. You just need to treat the symptoms."
Tamiflu can also be taken to prevent the flu, but it is only good for about ten days, compared to flu shot, which protects for about six months.