Medicinal interventions for influenza consist of two major approaches: the use of vaccines and antiviral drugs.
Vaccines. The most cost-effective way to combat influenza is vaccination. Vaccines induce a specific immune response in the body by exposing it to an inactivated or weakened virus, or its relevant components. Influenza vaccines work best in healthy individuals with a properly-functioning immune system. However, in individuals with a suboptimal immune system, such as the elderly and the immune-compromised, the current vaccines against seasonal influenza may not offer sufficient protection. These individuals may need extra protection against seasonal influenza. The use of antiviral drugs can offer a welcome adjunct to vaccination.
Antivirals. Antiviral drugs used for influenza are drugs that directly interfere with the replication of influenza viruses in the body and consequently their activity is limited to the period that they are administered. By contrast, current influenza vaccines are designed to protect against certain virus strains only, but are effective within one to two weeks of their administration and for a prolonged period. Antivirals are primarily used to treat flu infection, but could also be used in a prevention strategy.
Other medicinal interventions like the use of pneumococcal vaccines and antibiotics are not effective against influenza, but they are against certain complications.