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GPs told to prescribe antivirals to patients with flu-like symptoms

Public health officials have declared that flu is now circulating, and has told GPs they should start prescribing antivirals to patients with flu-like symptoms.

A statement issued by the Department of Health said that GPs and pharmacists should prescribe antivirals to patients ‘whether or not they are in a clinical risk group’.

GPs are also expected to encourage ‘at risk’ patients as well as young children to get the flu vaccine in order to ‘ensure the maximum protection through vaccination’.

The move comes after a spate of flu cases and an increase in young adults being hospitalised led PHE to confirm influenza was circulating within the community, despite the fact that uptake for flu vaccination had shown an increase. 

Dr Richard Peabody, a flu expert for PHE, said: ’It’s not too late for children and people in “at risk” groups to get the vaccine for free, and this remains important now that flu is circulating.

’Anyone in these groups who hasn’t yet had the vaccine should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife, as they are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, and sadly many end up in hospital.’

Readers' comments (8)

  • Do thes work I thought they had been discredited!Must stil have surplus stock.

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  • I had a flu jag many years ago. I promptly got flu symptoms then pneumonia then bilateral pneumonia, then broke a rib from coughing so much, then chronic fatigue probably from the mercury vaccine additive/adjuvant in the form of thimersol. Never again!
    Ps for anyone thinking of getting the flu vaccine, make sure it is thimersol free. It may cost a few pennies more but it will be worth it to avoid the mercury poisoning!
    Pps Mercury causes suppression of the immune system increasing the chance of viral infections!!!

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  • @|Anonymous | Other healthcare professional|08 Jan 2016 10:07pm

    Don't be absurd.

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  • The 10:07pm comment is sarcasm. Surely??

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  • Cue hoards of people with coughs + colds (or "flu" in their minds) flooding our surgeries looking for the magic antiviral pill that might just maybe sorta make 'em feel slightly better a day early. It's lucky there are armies of GPs sitting around with nothing else to do to see them all.
    And when they're not better in 2 days they'll be back demanding antibiotics.

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  • The established wisdom is that a patient with flu is so much more ill than someone with a cold. But this is all reather subjective, especially as we often only speak to the patient on the phone so rely on their assessment of severity.
    And how often do we ever test our diagnoses of flu? I have only done it once when I had the opportunity. That was during the swine flu outbreak when testing was encouraged. What I learned was that the apparent severity of illness did not correlate with a confirmed laboratory diagnosis of flu rather than non flu viruses.
    These drugs are not very effective and cause side effects so are only a small help in managing this common situation. What would be more useful would be near patient CRP testing so that we can differentiate between viral and bacterial infection. An objective way of proving to patients that their trip to the doctor really was a waste of time and that they don't need antibiotics could cut swathes off our winter workloads in the longer term and help to delay the development of multidrug resistent organisms.

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  • poppycock balderdash unclear benefits vs harms for antivirals and as for flu jab ... i always get it but I did years in Ed tubing old folk with green phlegm. Suspect the visitation to doc for a flu jab is marker of high health literacy, hand washing and good self cares. may be as protective as the jab..Ebola nurses retuned from Africa described handwashing as essential!!!!

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  • I just realised that it has been recommended that pharmacists prescribe this. They are not doctors and are not qualified to treat people. They are qualified to dispense meds and advise on those meds. How will a pharmacist tell if someone has pneumonia? Have they ever been taught to examine a chest?
    Thin end of the wedge!

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