GPs given green light to prescribe antivirals for flu on NHS

GPs have been alerted that they can start prescribing antivirals on the NHS for patients at risk of severe illness or complications from flu.

The latest surveillance data show that influenza is now circulating at an ‘increased rate’ in the population, prompting advice from chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies on Monday that GPs can now offer antivirals.

Antiviral medicines are prescribed to patients for the prophylaxis and treatment of influenza.

They may be given to patients in clinical at-risk groups as well as any who are at risk of severe illness or complications from untreated flu.

Flu vaccination

The decision to offer antivirals has come weeks earlier than it did during the last flu season, when the decision to make the drugs available came on 11 January.

Official figures show that GPs have driven up vaccination rates among most at-risk groups so far this season, although the number of over 65s has dropped off slightly.

GPs practices were left with large stocks of unused vaccine after the 2015/16 flu season, amid concerns over the decision to allow pharmacies to offer vaccination in parallel.

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