AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thanksgiving week is here, which means many people are traveling and gathering with family and friends.
The peak of flu season is also near, with peak activity typically between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rannon Ching, president and pharmacy director of Tarrytown Pharmacy, said the Austin pharmacy typically sees large increases in flu cases after Thanksgiving.
Recently, the pharmacy has mainly seen sinus illnesses, ear infections in children and an earlier-than-usual increase in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in children, Ching said.
“Usually RSV peaks around January or February, but now we’re starting to see it in November and December,” Ching said. “So I’m not really sure why this is happening, but it’s something to just be aware of.”
Dr. Ryan McCorkle, an emergency room physician at St. David’s Medical Center, said he was dealing with the flu, RSV and strep throat as the holidays approached. Strep and RSV cases mainly affect children and younger adults, and flu cases affect all ages.
“It’s kind of the seasonal increase that we usually see this time of year,” McCorkle said. “A lot of people traveling have seen a lot of people coming into the emergency room after being around their extended family with these upper respiratory symptoms.”
In addition to good hygiene and hand washing, McCorkle suggested wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID and flu and avoiding sharing drinks and hugging loved ones to stop the spread of strep .
Ching added that temperatures have not yet dropped, which often leads to more illnesses in cold weather.
Availability of medicines
Ching said his pharmacy is well prepared for flu season, with penicillins and generic Tamiflu in stock. But he said there are no guarantees about drug supply problems because more people get sick in the colder months and doctors write more prescriptions for those illnesses.
Influenza, COVID and RSV vaccines are widely available, Ching said.
Pharmacy has seen an increased demand for flu vaccines as many people prepare to see older, more vulnerable family members during the holidays. He recommends continuing to try to get a flu shot, even if the vaccine takes two weeks to have its full effect.
“If you get it now, even after seeing your family, you will at least have a little protection,” he said.
However, pharmacy – and pharmacies across the country – continue to see a shortage of RSV vaccines for children under 2 years old. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug in July, and Ching said the pharmacy hopes to give the vaccine to more infants during that time. their first season of RSV.
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