Drugs to fight swine flu in limited supply Hospitals temporarily close doors to visitors under 18 years of age
Powerful antiviral drugs that help lessen the symptoms of the swine flu are being shipped to only a limited number of drug stores across Prince Edward Island.
Tamiflu and Relenza are no magic cures, but they have been proven to help people from getting sicker.
The province has stockpiled millions of doses of these antiviral drugs as part of its Pandemic Influenza Contingency Plan. They have been distributed to 18 pharmacies as well as all Island hospitals.
Chief Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison says the province limited the roll out of the antiviral drugs in an effort to keep sick people away from large crowds, especially those that would be encountered in department stores.
Morrison said the province is only limiting the antivirals from their only stockpile.
She said private pharmacies may still get those drugs shipped from suppliers independently.
“ The decision to put them in certain pharmacies was trying to make sure there was enough available in pharmacies in various locations across Prince Edward Island,” Morrison added.
Pharmacies across the Island now have the drugs and doctors have been told which pharmacies those are.
Patients need a prescription to receive it.
That appears to be happening in record numbers.
Pharmacies say the two antiviral drugs are being prescribed in large numbers this week.
Antiviral medications are not recommended for mild illness in otherwise healthy individuals. Effective today, no visitors under 18 years of age will be allowed in the province’s two major hospitals because of concerns over the H1N1 virus.
Administration at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Prince County Hospital advised the public Friday of changes to visitor guidelines that come into effect today at both facilities.
“Our patients are our top priority and these temporary changes to visitor guidelines are reflective of the impacts of the H1N1 influenza in the community,” said Rick Adams, executive director of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.
“ We need to ensure that we take the appropriate precautionary steps to protect our patients, staff, physicians and volunteers from the H1N1 virus while they are at the hospital.”
Temporary changes to visitor guidelines include:
n No visitors under the age of 18 years.
n No more than two designated visitors per patient may visit during that patient’s stay in hospital.
Patients will be asked to identify two persons to designate as visitors during their stay in hospi- tal.
Reducing hospital visits will reduce the risk of influenza-like illness coming into the facilities. Designated visitors who are experiencing influenza-like illness — cough with or without fever, accompanied by either a sore throat, sore muscles, achy joints or extreme fatigue — are asked to refrain from visiting patients at the hospital until they are symptom-free.
Compassionate exceptions will be made to the temporary visitor guidelines on an individual patient basis and will be done in consultation with the patient and their health-care team.