Message from Department of Health and Health Education England

Surveillance data indicates an increase in influenza cases in the community. Prescribers working in primary care may now prescribe and community pharmacists may now supply antiviral medicines for the prophylaxis and treatment of influenza at NHS expense.

Pharmacists are to ensure that supplies are issued to patients promptly, in line with local requirements, to avoid treatment delay. Efficacy of antiviral medicines has been demonstrated when treatment is initiated within two days of first onset of symptoms. Additionally, all frontline healthcare workers should be vaccinated annually against influenza and observe appropriate infection control measures.

Concurrently, hospital clinicians should also continue to prescribe antiviral medicines for patients whose illness is confirmed or clinically suspected to be due to influenza, in accordance with PHE guidance for the treatment of complicated influenza.

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