Accessing Flu Antivirals In Northern Ireland

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People in Northern Ireland who have swine flu will only be given antivirals following an assessment by their GP.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety is aware that some people in Northern Ireland have been using the National Pandemic Flu Service to try and access antivirals. Currently this service is only available to people living in England or registered with a GP in England.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Elizabeth Mitchell said: “We are aware that some members of the public in Northern Ireland are inappropriately using the National Pandemic Flu Service to gain authorisation codes for antivirals.

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“Any person from Northern Ireland who goes to their pharmacy with an authorisation number will not be given antivirals. Instead they will be advised that if they have swine flu symptoms they should contact their GP or out-of-hours centre for advice.

“The current numbers of GP consultations in Northern Ireland for flu are still relatively low. The present arrangements remain the best and most appropriate way to get treatment to anyone who needs it. Northern Ireland will be able to use the National Pandemic Flu Service if the need arises at a later date. This situation is being kept under constant review.

“To avoid spreading the virus, people who think they have swine flu should stay at home and take simple measures to alleviate their symptoms such as rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking paracetamol as required. If anyone is still concerned, and in particular, if they are in a higher risk group they should contact their GP.

“Anyone who is prescribed antivirals by their GP should arrange for a ‘flu friend’ to collect the medication on their behalf. People with suspected swine flu should not attend their GP surgery, out-of-hours centre, pharmacy or go to A&E.

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