This guidance updates and replaces NICE technology appraisal 67 (published in September 2003).

NICE has said that its recommendations about oseltamivir and zanamivir should not reduce efforts to give vaccination (also called the flu jab) to people for whom it is recommended in national guidelines.

The guidance does not cover widespread epidemics.

Oseltamivir and zanamivir are recommended to prevent flu if all of the following apply:

  • The amount of flu virus going around is enough that if someone has a flu-like illness it is likely that it has been caused by the flu virus
  • The person is in an at-risk group (see page 4).
  • The person has been in contact with someone with a flu-like illness and can start treatment within 36 hours (for zanamivir) or within 48 hours (for oseltamivir)
  • The person has not been effectively protected by vaccination.

Guidance section 1.3 refers to the fact that the clinical risk groups are defined and updated each year by the Chief Medical Officer. For more information please see Annex C in the 2012/13 Seasonal flu plan.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guidance represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, health professionals are expected to take this guidance fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients. The application of the recommendations in this guidance is at the discretion of health professionals and their individual patients and do not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to provide the funding required to enable the guidance to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients wish to use it, in accordance with the NHS Constitution. They should do so in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities.

Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.

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