If you're high-risk, treatment can help keep you out of the hospital.
If you are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID, you can get anti-COVID medication. All of the medications for COVID have to be used early. Some of them have to be started within 5 days of the time when symptoms began. If it’s been more than 10 days since you first felt symptoms, then it’s too late for any of the current medications to be used. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to get tested if you feel sick.
You can get medication in any of the following ways:
Get a prescription from a health-care provider, urgent-care center, or community health center and bring it to a pharmacy to get the prescription filled. Find a community health center; find a pharmacy that carries COVID medication.
Go to a pharmacy or community health center that's part of the Test to Treat program. These locations can both prescribe medications and give them to you. Find a Test to Treat location.
Some pharmacies that are not part of Test to Treat can also prescribe and fill medication. Call your local pharmacy to see if they offer this service.
Bring these items with you when you when you get your prescription:
A list of all the medications you are already taking.
Electronic or printed health records less than 12 months old, or your health-care provider's contact information.
Lab reports less than 12 months old, if not part of other health records.
If you need more help
Call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages. If you need help because of a disability, call 1-888-677-1199 or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org.
The Test to Treat program lets people who are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID get tested and receive free treatment in the same visit. Here's how it works:
If you're at high risk and think you might have COVID, you can go to a participating pharmacy-based clinic or community health center and get tested. (Find a Test to Treat location) If you test positive on a rapid test at home, or you get tested somewhere else and show up positive, you can bring your results with you instead of getting tested there.
Not all pharmacy-based clinics or community health centers offer Test to Treat, so check before you go.
Bring with you a list of all the medications that you take, as well as any recent lab reports.
If you test positive, the health care provider at the clinic will look at your list of medications and lab results and talk to you about your health. That information will tell them if they can prescribe COVID medication for you.
If the health care provider prescribes COVID medication for you, you can get it for free at that same pharmacy or community health center.
Antivirals don’t usually kill viruses directly. Instead, they make it harder for viruses to make more virus within your body. They may also make it harder for viruses to get into your cells.
These medications have received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA — none are fully approved yet.
You could, but that doesn't have anything to do with the antivirals.
From the beginning of the pandemic, there have always been some people who get sick again right after they've gotten over COVID, even if they haven't been in contact with anyone who's infected. That's called a relapse or a rebound.
After lots of research, the FDA has figured out that the number of people who rebound is basically the same whether they've taken antivirals or not. (It's a pretty small number: less than 10 percent.)
The virus is not becoming resistant to the antivirals.
The antivirals are very good at keeping you from being hospitalized or dying from COVID, even if you have a relapse.
If you have a rebound, let your health-care provider know right away. You may also have to start your isolation over again.
If you have any of the conditions on the CDC Medical Conditions page, you’re at high risk. Here are just a few examples from that list:
65 years old or older
Obese or overweight
Chronic kidney disease
Have a condition or receiving treatment that weakens or suppresses your immune system
Chronic lung diseases including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and moderate to severe asthma
Sickle cell disease
Neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy
Have a medical device (for example, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation)
Certain diseases and medications keep the body's immune system from working properly. If your immune system can't do its job, COVID is much more likely to make you very sick or to kill you.
Unfortunately, because vaccines work by teaching the immune system how to respond to a virus, people with weak immune systems don't get as much protection from vaccines as other people do. If you're one of these folks, you can take medication while you're well that will help keep you from getting the virus. The protection should last for about six months.
You need a prescription to get this medication. If you don't have a doctor, call Combat COVID at 877-332-6585 for information and assistance.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decides which drugs and medical tests can be used in this country. The full FDA approval process can take months to years.
When a public-health emergency happens, there isn’t time for new drugs or tests to go through the entire process. That’s when the FDA can use Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). It allows the FDA to let certain medical products be used more quickly, while still making sure they are as safe as possible. All treatments and tests for COVID used in the US have received an EUA. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have received full approval from the FDA for adults. The Pfizer vaccine has an EUA for children ages 11 to 16.