The Department of Health has written to health professionals today after rising levels of influenza activated the NICE guidance for the supply of oseltamivir (Tamiflu)®.
Prevention: Oseltamivir can be prescribed for the prevention of flu to people aged 13 years or older who:
- belong to an 'at-risk' group, and
- have not had a flu jab this season, or who had one but too recently for it to have given good protection, or have had a flu jab but the vaccine does not match the virus circulating in the community, and
- have been in close contact with someone with flu-like symptoms, and
- can start taking oseltamivir within 48 hours of being in contact with the person with flu-like symptoms.
Treatment: Within licensed indications, influenza treatment can be prescribed as follows, provided that the treatment can start within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms:
- oseltamivir or zanamivir can be prescribed to adults
- oseltamivir can be prescribed to children over 1 year old
Figures published on the Health Protection Agency website indicate that there is a regional variation in the report of influenza like illness, with low reporting in the North of England and rising reporting in Central and South England. It may be appropriate to seek the advice of local Health Protection Units before prescribing.
Action: Clinicians should be prepared to prescribe for the treatment and prevention of influenza if advised to do so by local health protection units.