viral medication is indicated and, if so, possibly receive a prescription that the NTL would transmit to callers’ local pharmacies for dispensing (if feasible). NTLs would be staffed by nurses who would be trained to follow a specific protocol and work under the direction of a physician. In addition to prescribing antivirals, NTL nurses could provide guidance to the caller about whether to seek urgent care, as well as information about how to care for someone with flu. NTLs may be built onto an existing regional hotline infrastructure (e.g., poison control centers) and may leverage other medical hotlines currently operated by health plans, hospitals, and health agencies.
• Antiviral Pick-Up and Delivery by Community Contacts: A strategy to encourage family, friends, neighbors, and other community contacts to pick up prescribed antiviral medications from pharmacies and deliver them to people with flu at home. Public health agencies would encourage people who have been prescribed antiviral drugs to ask others to pick up and deliver their prescriptions. They also would educate the public about the benefits of encouraging sick people to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, and encourage their active support in helping friends and neighbors. More coordinated programs might be set up through local community organizations whose staff or volunteers could provide this service.
• Pharmacist Prescribing Under Collaborative Practice Agreements: A system through which a person sick with flu could visit certain pharmacists who would be authorized to prescribe and dispense antiviral medications according to approved protocols developed by influenza experts. Such pharmacists would work under formal “Collaborative Practice Agreements” with physicians who would provide supervision and consultation.
The CDC also is exploring new strategies to communicate clear, accurate information about pandemic influenza and treatment to the public, including
• Web-Based Tool: A web site launched during a pandemic for the purpose of helping people sick with flu-like symptoms and their caregivers to decide whether to seek medical care and to advise them when to seek treatment options, including antiviral medications.