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Flu (influenza) antiviral medications for people at risk for complications

Prescription antiviral medications, especially oseltamivir (brand name TamifluTM) are now available free of charge in pharmacies for the treatment of flu (influenza) in people at risk for complications. These medications relieve flu symptoms and reduce their duration and severity. They must be prescribed by a doctor, a pharmacist or a specialized nurse practitioner (SNP). Treatment must begin within 48 hours of the start of symptoms.

Target groups

Flu antiviral medications are intended for adults and children belonging to any one of the following groups:

People at risk for complications:

  • People aged 75 years and older
  • People living in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLD), seniors’ homes (RPA) or intermediate resources, whether public or private
  • People with a chronic disease or a condition requiring regular medical attention, such as:
    • a cardiac, pulmonary, renal (kidney), hepatic (liver), hematologic (blood), or neurologic disease
    • cancer
    • an immunocompromised condition
    • morbid obesity
  • Children and teenagers younger than 18 years receiving long-term treatment with acetylsalicylic acid, such as AspirinTM
  • Pregnant women in either of the following two situations:
    • in the 2nd or 3rd trimester and in good health
    • with a chronic disease or condition, regardless of the trimester
  • People living in remote or isolated communities
  • Children under 2 years of age.
  • For children with mild flu symptoms, antiviral treatment is not recommended if age is the only risk factor for complications

People at high risk for complications:

  • People who are immunocompromised, such as people who have recently received an allograft or a solid-organ transplant and people undergoing chemotherapy
  • People with a severe pulmonary disease
  • People with several disorders

People living in the same household as a person at risk for flu complications, along with the person’s home care providers, are also eligible for flu antiviral treatment.

How to receive this treatment

As soon as you have flu symptoms, you should do a rapid test for COVID-19. If you test negative and you belong to one of the target groups, you should book an appointment at a designated screening centre as soon as possible. Appointments can be booked online This hyperlink will open in a new window. or by calling 1-877-644-4545.

If you test positive, you should talk with a pharmacist, a specialized nurse practitioner or a doctor, who will determine if you are eligible to receive flu antiviral medication. If you are eligible, your will receive oseltamivir free of charge at a pharmacy of your choice.

Last update: December 13, 2022


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