January 29, 2015

Press Release # 007-15
Thursday, January 29, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Veronica Lewin/Megan Montalvo: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov

Health Department Releases New Guidance to Providers About Prescribing Medications to Treat Influenza

New Health Department posters and patient flyers about prescribing influenza antiviral medications will be sent to emergency rooms, outpatient clinics and urgent care centers citywide

As influenza activity continues in New York City, the Health Department today released a Health Alert Notification urging clinicians citywide to prescribe influenza antiviral medications to all high-risk or severely ill patients suspected of having influenza. In conjunction with this announcement, the Health Department also distributed posters and patient flyers to emergency rooms, outpatient clinics and urgent care centers throughout the city reminding providers when to prescribe influenza antiviral medications.

“A flu vaccine is the best way to prevent getting influenza, but if you do get influenza, antiviral medications can help reduce complications in young children, seniors, pregnant women and other high-risk groups,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “We urge providers to prescribe these medications to high-risk patients to prevent hospitalizations and save lives. New Yorkers who have flu-like symptoms and are at a higher risk for complications should speak with their healthcare provider about taking influenza antiviral medications.” 

The Health Department’s latest Influenza Surveillance Report shows that activity remains elevated in New York City. To keep infection from spreading widely, the Health Department encourages clinicians to prescribe one of three influenza antiviral medications – oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza) or peramivir (Rapivab) – to treat suspected or confirmed influenza infection in patients who are at higher risk for complications.

High-risk groups for influenza-related complications include:

  • People over 65 or under 2 years of age
  • People with chronic health conditions, including diabetes, chronic lung, heart, kidney, liver or blood disorders, neurological disorders compromising respiration, morbid obesity or immune-suppression
  • Pregnant women, or those who have given birth or had a miscarriage or abortion in the previous two weeks
  • People under the age of 19 who are on long-term aspirin therapy

For further information and guidelines on antiviral medications, including recommended dosages, please visit the Health Department’s website.