Should You Give Tamiflu To Your Kids?

The flu season is fast approaching and this year, in the midst of a pandemic, many parents are scrambling to plan for how to handle whatever bugs or sicknesses will inevitably show up once the temperature starts to drop outside. One question they’re asking is how safe is Tamiflu for kids?

What is Tamiflu?

Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) is an anti-viral prescription drug that, if taken within the first 48 hours after the onset of flu symptoms, can significantly reduce symptoms and even shorten the virus by 24 hours. On the cellular level, Tamiflu works by blocking a virus’s ability to copy itself and then spread throughout the body. When a virus is able to copy itself and disperse throughout the body, the human immune response triggers a cascade of symptoms. Flu symptoms typically include fever, chills, body aches, tiredness, runny nose, cough, and sore throat among others.

Who should take Tamiflu?

Since people tend to get the flu at various levels of seriousness, not everyone is a great candidate for this particular drug. For example, those who are asymptomatic meaning they are positive for the flu but have no symptoms wouldn’t require Tamiflu. Even mild cases don’t necessitate a prescription for Tamiflu. However, for those with severe symptoms, being treated with Tamiflu can reduce the intensity of symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness.

Is Tamiflu safe for kids?

Tamiflu is safe for kids as young as two weeks old. It is also safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, although the CDC cautions expecting moms to talk to their doctor before taking Tamiflu.

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What are the side effects?

The most common side effect of Tamiflu for all ages is nausea and vomiting, which typically happen in the first two days of taking the drug. If you take the medicine with food, you can stave off the effects of nausea and vomiting.

For kids and teens, however, there is a risk of seizures, confusion, and abnormal behavior that lasts for the duration of treatment with Tamiflu.

There have been some rare instances of kids developing allergic reactions to Tamiflu that can include a serious skin rash. If this happens, immediately stop taking Tamiflu and call a healthcare provider.

Is Tamiflu expensive?

Most insurance companies will cover the cost of Tamiflu and other antiviral drugs, whoever if you are without health insurance then you might have to pay between $100 and $200 for a five day supply for one person.

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Does Tamiflu prevent the flu?

No. Tamiflu can only treat symptoms. The best way to prevent flu is to get the flu vaccine. Practice good hand hygiene and stay home if you feel sick so that you don’t infect others.

Still have questions about Tamiflu for kids? Decisions about treatment are best left to your child’s prescribing physician.