Most people get better from COVID-19 with rest, fluids, and fever-reducing medications like Tylenol. But not everyone does. Some people can get very sick and even have to go to the hospital. But there are ways to avoid that. Most importantly, get up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations. And if you do test positive for COVID-19, talk to your health care provider about treatments like antivirals.
Antivirals are medicines that only fight viruses, like COVID-19. They help stop it from spreading in your body so you don’t get as sick as you might have without them.
Who can get antivirals?
There are two antivirals that are authorized by the U.S. FDA to help protect you from severe COVID-19. Paxlovid is for people who are 12 or older and are at high risk of developing moderate or severe COVID-19. Paxlovid reduced hospitalizations or deaths by 88% in clinical trials. Lagevrio is for people who are 18 or older and at high risk for developing moderate or severe COVID-19. Some examples of people who may be at high risk are those who have one of these risk factors: heart or lung problems, diabetes, overweight or obese, people who have asthma, people who smoke, and people who don’t exercise regularly.
As with any medication, you should talk with your health care provider to make sure that an antiviral for COVID-19 is right for you. Some people might benefit from monoclonal antibodies, which are an injection or infusion that can help your immune system fight the virus.
Where can I get antivirals?
Antivirals are now easy to get and easy to use at home. The federal government has already purchased them and given them to pharmacies so they are free during the pandemic. If you are having symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and ask about antivirals.
If you don’t have a regular health care provider or cannot make an appointment with yours, you can still get antivirals. The Test to Treat program lets you go to certain urgent care facilities and get tested for COVID-19 and, if it comes positive, get antivirals before you leave the store.
Visit the Test to Treat Locater to find out where you can go to get tests, medical care, and treatments. Doing this as soon as you know you have COVID-19 is important since you should begin taking Paxlovid within 5 days of getting symptoms. Consider finding your Test to Treat location or speaking to your healthcare provider even if you don’t have COVID, so you can act quickly if you do test positive.
The Health Department encourages you to talk over these treatments with your health care provider. And remember to get vaccinated and boosted. It’s still the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19, especially from hospitalization and severe disease.