TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Chicken soup is great, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to whip the current flu epidemic.
Perhaps the most sought-after commodity in the New York area in recent days has sparked something of a stampede toward pharmacies, doctors offices and medical clinics.
Jessica Sessions, a physician at Ryan Community Health Center on the Upper West Side, said her clinic is twice is as crowded as on a normal Monday.
“It seems the majority of patients coming in are complaining of those flu-like symptoms,” Dr. Sessions told CBS 2’s Steve Langford.
On the Upper East Side pediatrician Dr. Laura Popper said she saw 60 patients on Friday alone.
“The flu is never to be taken for granted,” Popper said. “The flu is a rough thing to have.”
Doctors’ offices and medical clinics appear to have flu shots available, while pharmacies experienced widespread shortages over the weekend. However, that is starting to change.
CBS 2 canvassed half a dozen pharmacies on the Upper West Side on Monday. Just one had flu shots while another was getting a delivery as we were there.
“We would normally dispense one Tamiflu a week, if that much. We were going at actually maybe 20 a day,” said Leon Tarasenko, of Pasteur Pharmacy.
And those on the front lines of the flu frenzy cannot stress enough — do not mess with the flu, especially if you have a higher risk of complications.
“If you have asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and you feel like you’re getting the flu, you should go in and see your doctor,” Dr. Sessions said.
New York State health officials have reported more than four times as many flu cases so far this season compared to all of last winter.
THE SITUATION IN NEW JERSEY
New Jersey hospitals are in crisis mode with the widespread flu outbreak causing emergency rooms to burst at the seam, public health officials told an Assembly panel Monday.
“Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Dr. Shelley Greenman, who works in the emergency room at Cooper University Hospital. “Everyone who has the flu feels like they’re going to die.”
With hospitals being overrun with patients complaining of flu-like symptoms, officials are urging patients to see their doctors before rushing to the emergency room.
Hospitals have been trying to get a hold on the situation. Diane Anderson of the New Jersey Hospital Association said in many cases, flu patients are screened and separated as soon as they walk through the front door.