The Ministry of Health today issued the following guidelines in relation to the availability of Tamiflu – an antiviral medication which is recommended for all persons with suspected or confirmed influenza who require hospitalisation or are showing signs of severe illness, and those who are at higher risk for complications.

According to the Health Ministry: "Persons at higher risk include children younger than five years old, adults 65 years and older with heart disease or stroke, pregnant women, persons with weakened immune systems and those with chronic conditions that include asthma and other lung conditions, diabetes, and sickle cell anaemia.??

"Persons who are not at higher risk for complications or do not have severe influenza generally do not require antiviral medication.

"It is best to start taking Tamiflu as soon as possible after flu symptoms start, and preferably within the first 48 hours.

"Tamiflu is being issued to members of the Barbadian public, free of cost, at all polyclinic pharmacies when prescribed by a doctor.

"Private doctors may prescribe Tamiflu by filling out a Barbados Drug Service prescription, along with a Specially Authorized Drug (SAD) form. Both the prescription and the SAD form should be presented to the pharmacy of a polyclinic.

"Private doctors are asked to note that SAD forms can be collected from the Barbados Drug Service or any polyclinic pharmacy. SAD forms have also been distributed by electronic mail to physicians. Prescriptions for Tamiflu should be filled as soon as possible.

"Persons who are suspected of being infected with Influenza A H1N1 and have been prescribed Tamiflu, should not go to the pharmacist, but send a relative or friend to have the prescription filled."

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