By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The severe flu outbreak across the country has led to an increase in demand for Tamiflu. The prescription medicine is thought to help ease flu side effects.

“Influenza is still at a very high level in Minnesota,” Doug Schultz of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said.

This flu season is on track to be one of the worst in the last five years. Since the flu shot has been shown to be less effective to prevent the flu, there is now a greater demand for the medication to treat it.

“There are some of what we call, ‘spot shortages,'” Schultz said.

The MDH says manufacturers are producing enough of the anti-viral medicine Tamiflu and are continually restocking pharmacies to meet the increase in demand.

A spokesperson for CVS Pharmacies said there has been an increase for Tamiflu nationwide.

“We’re continuing to supply stores with the vaccine, Tamiflu and other flu-related medications using our existing inventory network, but there may be instances when individual pharmacies could be temporarily out-of-stock. We are closely monitoring the situation and are working with suppliers to ensure our patients have access to available vaccine and flu-related medications.”

“Typically what happens is a pharmacy will order a certain amount in, they’ll run through that and they may have trouble getting a little bit more until the distribution system kicks in,” Schultz said.

Still, your best protection health officials say is the flu shot. Doctors and health officials say it’s better to get it late, than never

“Even if it’s 30 percent effective, you’re still 30 percent protected for the influenza, versus not having the shot at all,” Schultz said.

The MDH says whether you need Tamiflu is something to check with your doctor, but the flu can be more serious for the elderly and children.

We did call 10 pharmacies around the metro to see if they had Tamiflu in stock. They all said yes, but some were low on inventory.

Kate Raddatz