Carolinas HealthCare System will join Novant Health and other hospital systems in restricting visits by children 12 and under, effective Friday morning, as flu spreads across the region.
The CVS pharmacy chain, meanwhile, said some of its stores may be be temporarily out of stock of the popular flu remedy Tamiflu.
Twenty North Carolina residents died of the flu from last Oct. 1 through Dec. 30, more than doubling the number in the same period a year earlier. Flu cases are normally highest in February and March.
Carmel Christian School in Matthews canceled classes for Thursday and Friday after a flu outbreak sickened more than 160 students, WSOC-TV reported.
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Carolinas HealthCare said it would join Novant Health, Cone Health in Greensboro and Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem in starting the visitation restrictions on the same day “to prevent confusion among the public and to avoid a patchwork of varying restrictions.”
Carolinas HealthCare also asked that people with flu symptoms – such as fever, headaches, body aches or pain, cough or sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea – not visit hospital patients. If circumstances require a visit, those people will be asked to wear a surgical mask.
Hospitals affected by Carolinas HealthCare’s tighter visitation policy are: Carolinas Medical Center, Levine Children’s Hospital, Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy, Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast, Carolinas HealthCare System Pineville, Carolinas HealthCare System Union, Carolinas HealthCare System University, Carolinas HealthCare System Lincoln, Carolinas HealthCare System Cleveland, Carolinas HealthCare System Kings Mountain, Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, Carolinas HealthCare System Stanly, Carolinas HealthCare System Anson, Carolinas HealthCare System Behavioral Health-Charlotte, Carolinas HealthCare System Behavioral Health-Davidson, Carolinas Rehabilitation-Charlotte, Carolinas Rehabilitation-NorthEast, Carolinas Rehabilitation-Mt. Holly and Pineville Inpatient Rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, CVS said the pharmacy chain is not experiencing a widespread shortage of Tamiflu but is seeing increased demand nationwide.
“We’re continuing to supply stores with Tamiflu using our existing inventory network, but there may be instances when an individual pharmacy could be temporarily out-of-stock,” spokeswoman Amy Lanctot said by email. “We are closely monitoring the situation and we are working with suppliers to ensure our patients have access to available flu-related medications. We recommend that patients call their local CVS Pharmacy in advance since inventory varies day to day.”
Most people with the flu don’t need medical care, Carolinas HealthCare says, recommending that sufferers stay home, avoid contact with others, rest, drink fluids and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. To reduce the odds of getting the flu, it recommends frequent hand-washing and getting a flu shot.