Quick testing is key to getting best treatment
If you test positive for COVID-19 and you’re at high risk of getting seriously ill, medicines can help shrink your chances of ending up in the hospital – or even dying.
Get tested as soon as you feel sick. These medicines work best in the first few days that you have symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and others.
The treatments mentioned in this post are for people with a high risk of getting seriously ill if they get COVID-19, including:
- People 50 years and older; the older you are, the more likely you’ll feel serious effects of this illness.
- People who aren’t vaccinated for COVID-19.
- People with certain medical conditions, including a weakened immune system.
Paxlovid is a brand name for a combination of two generic antiviral medicines, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. They help stop the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 from multiplying in the body. That makes it easier for the immune system to fight the virus.
Paxlovid is for adults, and children at least 12 years old. It’s taken by mouth, at home.
Someone must start taking Paxlovid within just 5 days of feeling symptoms. This is a prescription drug. It’s not available at all pharmacies. Any licensed health-care provider can prescribe it, but ask your clinician what pharmacy near you carries this drug.
You also can check a list of pharmacies at this COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator. You should still call the pharmacy to double check that it has Paxlovid before you go to fill your prescription.
Some people who finish their five days on Paxlovid may feel sick and test again positive for COVID-19. Researchers found that this “rebound” could also happen with patients who weren’t treated with this medication. If this happens, you should isolate from others because you could again spread the virus.
This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page explains how to understand your chances of becoming seriously ill with COVID if you catch it.
For people who can’t take Paxlovid, another option is Lagevrio (generic: molnupiravir). This is another antiviral medication, like Paxlovid. It’s not for children, only for people age 18 and older. It’s taken by mouth at home, and needs to be taken within 5 days of when you first feel symptoms. Only certain pharmacies carry it. Check the COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator to see where you can get your prescription.
A third antiviral that’s available is Remdesivir, sold under the brand name Veklury, which is approved for both adults and children. This treatment comes in the form of intravenous (IV) infusions in a clinic over three consecutive days. It should be started as soon possible, but definitely within seven days of when symptoms start.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, and are at high risk of getting seriously ill, talk to your health-care provider about whether one of these treatments is right for you.
Where to get help
If you get COVID-19, there are ways of treating the illness without a hospital stay. If you or a family member 12 years or older tests positive for the virus and you are at high risk for serious illness, please see your doctor or go to one of our Vanderbilt Health Clinic at Walgreens locations or a Vanderbilt Health Walk-In Clinic for testing and to talk about your treatment options.