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Why some parents urge people to not take Tamiflu

HOUSTON – The peak of flu season is upon us. The virus usually spikes in February and kills tens of thousands of people each year.

The first thing you’re supposed to do when you feel symptoms is start taking an antiviral, but a rare side effect has some parents warning people to avoid the drugs.

Their warning claims taking Tamiflu can cause children to “hear voices” or experience a drastic change in personality.

The Tamiflu website reads, “People with the flu, particularly children and adolescents, may be at an increased risk of seizure, confusion, or abnormal behavior early during their illness.”

Nurse practitioner Alex Hacker from CVS Minute Clinic said the side effect can happen but she isn’t convinced that the antiviral is entirely to blame since a high fever may cause the same symptoms. Instead, she tells patients the pros outweigh the cons.

“The benefits outweigh the risks of taking Tamiflu, especially among those that are kids or elderly patients or those who are immune-compromised,” Hacker said.

Since the flu can kill the age group in question, Hacker said parents need to take a lot of precautions heading into peak season to avoid the flu entirely.

Advice to avoid the flu

Hacker provided these tips to help you avoid catching the flu.

1. Wear a mask. The sick person in the house should wear a mask to keep the rest of the people in the home shielded from the virus.

2. Instead of coughing in your hands, which then can spread germs, it’s best to cough into the elbow of your sleeve.

3. Always make sure you’re keeping your hands clean. Wash your hands with soap and water or use antibacterial gel as often as you can.

4. Wipe down the common surfaces where people frequently touch.

5. You also want to make sure you call your doctor right away if you think you have the flu. Hacker said that for people needing antivirals, you must begin within 48 hours of feeling symptoms in order for the drug to be effective. Sometimes doctors will want to fill the prescription over the phone instead of having you in the office where you’ll expose other people.