ACIP updates antiviral guidelines for flu treatment

February 3, 2011

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has issued updated guidelines regarding the use of antiviral agents for the treatment and chemoprophylaxis of influenza, according to a report in the January 21 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The new recommendations, which include a summary of the effectiveness and safety of antiviral treatment medications, update those issued by the committee in 2008.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued revised guidelines for vaccinating patients against influenza. The ACIP report was published in Mortality and Morbidity Report Weekly.

The updated guidance suggests several significant changes to the 2008 committee recommendations, including revisions to the tables of contraindications and precautions to vaccination; restructuring reports to emphasize vaccine risk-benefit screening immediately after discussion of contraindications and vaccines; and establishing stricter criteria for selecting appropriate storage units for vaccines.

ACIP remained bullish on the benefits of using vaccine for the prevention and control of influenza. “Antiviral medications are effective for the prevention of influenza, and when used for treatment, can reduce the duration and severity of illness,” wrote Anthony E. Fiore, MD, and his colleagues.

However, the authors concluded, the emergence of strains resistant to 1 or more of the 4 licensed antiviral agents (oseltamivir, zanamivir, amantadine, and rimantadine) has made prevention and treatment far more complicated in the last 5 years.

Therefore, the authors stated, it is important to consider information about surveillance data and resistance patterns when making decisions on which vaccine to use.

In addition, ACIP recommended that antiviral treatment begin as soon as possible in patients with suspected or confirmed severe, complicated, or progressive influenza, or in outpatients with risk factors connected with age or underlying medical conditions.

The guidance was intended to help vaccination providers assess benefits and risks, recommend administration and storage practices, and understand the most effective strategies for ensuring vaccination coverage, according to CDC.