Dartmouth-Hitchcock logo
Summer Flowers In This Section

Anti-Viral Medications for Flu

Unlike the flu vaccine, which is given to ward off the flu, anti-flu medications are prescribed once someone has contracted the virus.

Due to the recent media coverage of avian flu, many families have expressed concern and have asked if we could prescribe anti-flu medication such as oseltamivir (also called Tamiflu®), to have on hand in case an outbreak occurs. Recently, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS) posted a Health Advisory recommending that physicians and other healthcare providers do not prescribe anti-flu medications unless medically necessary.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock supports the guidance from the NHDHHS. We want to help you understand the reasons why we cannot give you anti-flu medications when they are not medically needed:

  • Taking anti-flu medications, such as Tamiflu®, now might promote the spread of flu viruses and can also decrease your body's ability to fight off these viruses. If this occurred, these important medications would no longer be effective and would not provide enough prevention or treatment for individuals at high risk of complications from flu viruses.
  • Anti-flu medicines have possible side effects and toxicities if not prescribed or used properly, and do not work for other non-flu respiratory infections.
  • Anti-flu medicines are expensive.

As there are limited supplies of anti-flu medications in Vermont, New Hampshire and nationwide, they need to be reserved for patients at highest risk of complications from the flu as well as for flu outbreaks. We will prescribe Tamiflu® or other anti-flu medications for the following people:

  • Any person experiencing a potentially life-threatening flu-related illness.
  • Any person at high risk for serious complications from the flu and who is within the first two days of the beginning of the illness. Patients at high risk include children 12-23 months of age, individuals with chronic medical conditions (heart or lung disease, diabetes), pregnant women and people at least 65 years old.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications who are exposed to others infected with the flu.

We understand your concerns about the possibility of an avian flu outbreak. In order to keep everyone as healthy and safe as possible, we are committed to preserving anti-flu medications for only those who really need it as recommended by the state.

If you have any questions, please talk with your healthcare provider.