Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections are responsible for considerable morbidity, mortality and health-care resource use. For the Netherlands, we estimated age and risk-group specific numbers of antibiotics, otologicals and cardiovascular prescriptions per 10,000 person-years during periods with elevated activity of influenza or RSV, and compared these with peri-season rates. Data were taken from the University of Groningen in-house prescription database (www.iadb.nl) and virological surveillance for the period 1998-2006. During influenza and RSV periods excess antibiotic prescriptions were estimated for all age groups. In the age groups 0-1 and 2-4 years, excess antibiotic prescriptions during periods with elevated RSV activity (65% and 59% of peri-seasonal rates) exceeded the surpluses estimated during the influenza-activity periods (24% and 34% of peri-seasonal rates) while for otologicals excess prescriptions were higher for influenza (22% and 27%) than for RSV (14% and 17%). Among persons of 50 years and older, notably those without medical high-risk conditions, excess prescriptions for cardiovascular medications were estimated during the influenza periods at approximately 10% (this was also already seen in persons aged 45-49). Our results may have implications for influenza vaccination policies. In particular, extension of influenza vaccination to groups of non-elderly adults and young children may lower excess prescriptions during these influenza periods for all three types of drug prescriptions investigated
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