Man experiencing flu symptoms and wondering if his kids can take Tamiflu

Can kids take Tamiflu?

Written on January 27, 2023 by Gillian Singer, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

When a young person in your life gets the flu, it can be heartbreaking to see them cough and sniffle.

Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is a prescription antiviral medication used to treat influenza (the flu) and is approved for use in children as young as 2 weeks old. It’s commonly prescribed to kids to reduce the duration and severity of their flu. The child’s healthcare provider can prescribe Tamiflu as it cannot be purchased over the counter.

What is the flu?

The FDA offers its definition of the flu: “The term ‘flu’ refers to illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu is a respiratory infection that can cause symptoms such as fever, chills, aches and pains, cough, and sore throat. The flu can range from mild common cold symptoms, to the typical ‘flu’ symptoms described above, to life-threatening pneumonia and other complications, including secondary bacterial infections” [1].

“There are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C, and D,” says the CDC, “Influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease in people (known as flu season) almost every winter in the United States” [2].

Flu prevention

The CDC, along with all other medical organizations, says the best way to protect children and adults from getting the flu is to get the annual flu vaccine [3]. Schools, in particular, are flu factories as most young children don’t know to practice healthy habits like covering their coughs and sneezes, washing their hands, and disinfecting surfaces. As young people grow, they should be taught these habits, but once again, this is no substitute for the flu vaccine.

Make sure you and the young people in your life practice the healthy habits discussed above when traveling and in highly populated areas and buildings (like work or school).

Flu treatment

The flu is miserable, but the only treatments available other than antiretrovirals are rest and at-home care. If you are sick, “Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. If you must leave home, for example to get medical care, wear a facemask if you have one, or cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands often to keep from spreading flu to others” [4].

What is Tamiflu?

Influenza is viral, not bacterial, so antibiotics will not treat the sickness. Antivirals, like Tamiflu, prevent the flu virus from growing, though it is not to be considered a substitute for the flu vaccine.

Is Tamiflu safe for children?

Yes. Tamiflu is approved for safe use in children as young as 2 weeks old.

Consulting a healthcare provider about Tamiflu for a child

When talking to a child’s healthcare provider about taking Tamiflu, you should inform them if there is any possibility of pregnancy or breastfeeding, if the child has heart problems or conditions, respiratory problems, kidney problems, a weakened immune system, or if they have other health conditions. The healthcare provider should also be informed of what medications and vaccines the child has taken or received recently [5].

How Tamiflu works

There are two uses for Tamiflu: to treat an active flu infection and to prevent a flu infection. The FDA reports, “It works by attacking the flu virus to keep it from multiplying in your body and by reducing the symptoms of the flu. Tamiflu can sometimes keep you from getting the flu if you take it before you get sick” [1].

Side effects

The FDA reports that “The most common side effects of Tamiflu are nausea and vomiting. Usually, nausea and vomiting are not severe and happen in the first 2 days of treatment. Taking Tamiflu with food may lessen the chance of getting these side effects. Other side effects include stomach (abdominal) pain, nosebleeds, headache, and feeling tired (fatigue)” [1].

Children and adolescents are at “a higher risk for seizures, confusion, or abnormal behavior early during their illness. These serious side effects may happen shortly after beginning Tamiflu or may happen in people when the flu is not treated” [1]. These side effects are not common.

Other flu antivirals approved for children

There are three other antivirals approved for use in children per the CDC:

  • “Zanamivir (trade name Relenza>®) is approved for treatment of flu in children 7 years and older. It is not recommended for use in children with underlying respiratory disease, including those with asthma and other chronic lung diseases. Inhaled zanamivir is given via a special inhaler (Diskhaler®).
  • Peramivir (trade name Rapivab®) is given intravenously and recommended for use in children 6 months and older.
  • Baloxavir (trade name Xofluza®) is a pill that is given as a single dose by mouth and is approved for early treatment of flu in children aged 5 to less than 12 years who do not have any chronic medical conditions, and for all children aged 12 and older” [6].

Getting care with Everlywell

With Everlywell's telehealth option for flu treatment online, you can book a video appointment with a healthcare provider who can diagnose your condition based on symptoms and exposure history, and prescribe medication as necessary.

Can you take Tamiflu without a positive flu test?

Can you take Tamiflu as a preventative?

What if I need a lab test after my telehealth visit?


  1. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Tamiflu (Oseltamivir Phosphate) information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. URL. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  2. Types of influenza viruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published December 2, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  3. Schools, businesses & Travelers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published October 12, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  4. Flu: What to do if you get sick. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published December 15, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  5. Tamiflu® (oseltamivir phosphate): Prescription flu treatment. Tamiflu. URL. Accessed January 23, 2023.
  6. Children and flu antiviral drugs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published December 15, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2023.
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