BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– According to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), the flu has reached its highest level in five years.

Pharmacies are trying to keep up while dealing with a national drug shortage that’s reducing the availability of the very medication that’s essential this time of year.

“It’s been bad. It’s been really bad,” said Dr. Orlando Palmer, the owner of Parker’s Pharmacy. “As a result, we have had to increase our staffing. We know this is a busy time of the year.”

Dr. Palmer explained that manufacturers are dealing with a backlog of pharmaceuticals such as Amoxicillin, which is used to treat infections in children.

“Pharmacies are not able to get adequate supply for the demand, meaning, Amoxicillin,” he said. “We’ve seen, any given day, we can order hundreds at a time. Right now, it’s a constraint, meaning I can only order a handful here and there.”

Palmer expressed frustration at having to turn patients away. He said phone calls are double than average.

“Early on, I want to say a month ago, we were able to change that prescription to a strength that we had in stock, now those aren’t available,” he said.

Dr. Ronald Andrews, a physician with the Baton Rouge Pediatric and Internal Medicine Associates told BRPRoud that in the last week, one third of his patients presented with respiratory illnesses. He advised sick patients who are waiting for shelves to be restocked to call around or go old school.

Dr. Andrews explained, “There’s always home remedies. We tell people sometimes who are congested or coughing to go to the smallest restroom, put the shower on, and let the room steam up if you don’t have a humidifier.”

Dr. Palmer also recommends that families take steps to prevent becoming sick.

“Winter is coming upon us, so I highly recommend an increase in vitamin C, whether that is oranges or vitamin C capsules,” said Palmer.