As flu spreads rapidly, supply shortage causing concern for doctors

(WHDH) — As the flu spreads rapidly and hits the country hard — with 46 states already affected — doctors are worried that it may be tougher than normal to treat due to a shortage of supplies.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire are among two states hardest hit by the flu this year.

A shortage of IV bags has exacerbated the problem, and doctors are desperate to find the fluids that they use to treat patients who are suffering in the hospital.

The shortage stems from Hurricane Maria, which pounded Puerto Rico months ago. Manufacturing plants that make the hospital supplies are still suffering, making production slow — and in some cases, slim to none.

“We’re in for a very substantial influenza season,” said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University.

Doctors say to prevent yourself from getting the flu in the first place, they recommend getting the flu shot.

“We actually don’t know yet how good our flu vaccine will be for this season,” said Paul Sax, the clinical director for the division of infectious diseases at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. “But what we do know, it was 30 percent effective…It does appear that the people who get the vaccine who get the flu get the milder case.”

Doctors say it’s never too late to protect yourself and others, even though the flu shot is not 100 percent effective.

Doctors also add that the flu shot cannot give you the flu, squashing a common rumor.

“There are some people who get achy arms, but the actual flu cannot be transmitted,” Sax said.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, and headache. When it comes to treating those symptoms now, doctors may soon have to find last-minute alternatives until more supplies arrive.


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