Flu season cancels school, delays surgeries

Wide outbreak of flu this season

A widespread flu outbreak causes UAB Hospital to delay elective surgeries that don't require a hospital stay. Briarwood Christian School is cancelling classes through the Martin Luther King Day holiday, because so many students are sick. Many pharmacists are scrambling to meet the demand for Tamiflu.

These are just some of the way this extreme flu season is infecting Central Alabama.

UAB Hospital representatives say about 30 non-emergency procedures scheduled for today and tomorrow are a no-go for now. That's because with so many patients coming in with the flu, there is no place to put those needing the non-emergency cases even if they were already scheduled.

"Everyone just wants to get well. There are a lot of kids sick," says pharmacist Jim Parekh of Cahaba Pharmacy. "I do believe the patients who are bouncing back a little faster are the ones who have had the shots."

Across the area resources are stretched. At UAB Hospital, for example, flu treatments are nothing to sneeze at. They've jumped 50% over the last three days. Hospital doctors across the Birmingham Metro are urging sick patients to be smart: If you need the ER, use it. If not, avoid it because you could infect someone else.

Flu season lasts until March 30th. If you have not been vaccinated, you still have time.

"The thing people need to remember also is the more vaccine you get {for example} if you get it yearly, it actually improves your immunity," says Bernard Camins, M.D. He is associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UAB.

UAB Hospital reps say doctors will still perform outpatient procedures, since they do not require a stay. Also, check your insurance or your own doctor -- you may have options available allowing you to get a treatment or a prescription without actually going into their office.

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