An increasing number of flu patients are hesitating to take Tamiflu out of fear over side effects, shocked by a female teenager's jump to death after taking the drug.
An owner physician of an internal medicine clinic in North Gyeongsang Province said more patients refused to take the antiviral drug after he explained about side effects.
“When I explained the side effects on the central nervous system, some patients said they would not take medicine. This is frustrating,” the doctor said. “Last week, the flu pandemic was so severe that some patients were hospitalized with pneumonia due to complications. In this situation, I wonder if it would be okay to send back patients who refuse the treatment.”
The doctor worried that Tamiflu-phobia flu patients could get worse with pneumonia.
Another provincial clinic owner said he did not see any patient who refused to be prescribed with a flu treatment. However, he raised concern that patients who received the prescription could avoid taking the drug or discontinue the treatment.
Physicians emphasized that the benefits of taking Tamiflu are far superior to rejecting the treatment and that patients should follow instructions for the treatment.
Patients with influenza should take Tamiflu twice a day for five days. Once they start taking the drug, they should not stop making it midway even if their symptoms were alleviated. Even if symptoms improve, it takes five days to remove the entire virus in the body. If patients arbitrarily stop the treatment with improved symptoms, symptoms may worsen again due to the proliferation of the remaining virus.
An owner doctor of an internal medicine clinic in Seoul warned that not treating the flu, especially among children, could be detrimental. “The mortality of the flu is quite high among pediatric patients,” he said.
A physician who runs a clinic in Gangbuk-gu in Seoul said Korean patients should know how contagious diseases could be dangerous because they had already experienced the outbreak of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and swine flu. “Taking an antiviral drug (Tamiflu) alleviates the symptoms, reduces the infectivity, and lowers the chance of complications such as pneumonia,” he stressed.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), only 72.1 percent of children aged between six months and 12 had flu vaccinations as of Thursday last week.
KCDC has advised that if a person has not yet been vaccinated, he or she should be vaccinated now. If pediatric patients took Tamiflu, guardians should not leave their children alone for at least two days, it added.
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