Swine flu is sickening so many children across the country, some of them fatally, that federal health officials decided Friday to release the last of the national stockpile of children’s Tamiflu.
Even though the winter flu season has yet to begin, flu has now killed 114 children and teenagers in the United States since April, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since the C.D.C. began tracking children’s flu deaths five years ago, the highest toll was 88, in the winter of 2007-8; many more children died in the pandemics of 1918, 1957 and 1968, but there are no accurate counts.
Dr. Frieden’s figures were for deaths confirmed by laboratories. On Thursday, the C.D.C. estimated that in the swine flu’s spring wave there were 2.7 deaths for each confirmed one, so the actual number of children’s deaths may be closer to 300.
On Oct. 1, anticipating shortages of liquid Tamiflu for children, the government released 300,000 doses from the national stockpile. On Friday, it released the last 234,000 doses.
It has ordered more from Roche, its Swiss manufacturer, but that is not expected to arrive before January, Dr. Frieden said.
In the meantime, federal officials are encouraging pharmacies to empty powder from adult capsules and dilute it with syrup into children’s doses. Some large pharmacy chains are already doing so. Presumably, the same could be done with the 37 million adult doses still in the stockpile.