Treatments are available for COVID-19

Illustration of COVID-19

Protect Your Health

Treatments are available for COVID-19

COVID-19 treatments can help prevent severe illness in high-risk patients to help keep them out of the hospital. Learn about your medication options if you are at high risk for developing severe disease [Español ].

Am I at high risk of developing severe illness?

Some people are at higher risk for more severe illness from COVID-19 [Español ]. This includes adults over the age of 65, people with certain chronic health conditions (of any age), people who live in congregate settings, and more. Severe illness from COVID-19 means that you may need to be hospitalized, may need intensive care, may need a ventilator to help you breathe, or that you may die as a result of the infection.

People who have weakened immune systems may particularly benefit from authorized treatments if they are exposed to COVID-19 or develop a COVID-19 infection, even if they are fully vaccinated.

How do I access these treatments and what do they cost?

If you think you may be at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and you have a positive COVID-19 test or have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should talk with your healthcare provider about your situation and their medical recommendation(s). If you are advised that medication is needed, these medicines require a prescription. If you are advised to receive monoclonal antibody therapy, you can search the monoclonal antibody locator to find the nearest treatment site. 

At this time, medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 are in limited supply, but more will be available

These medications are free, but you may be responsible for a co-pay at the location where you receive the treatment.

Outpatient and post-exposure treatments

Most people can recover from COVID-19 using at-home treatments. Those at high-risk may benefit from medications to help reduce the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. These medications are allocated to Virginia from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and may not currently be available in all areas of Virginia.

Some medications can help prevent someone from getting sick. They are called post-exposure prophylaxis, and are effective if they are taken soon after a person is exposed to someone with COVID-19 to prevent them from developing the disease. Treatments for pre-exposure prophylaxis, can be used for prevention before exposure, and can be helpful for people with a weak immune system or who cannot receive COVID-19 vaccination.

Some medications can help prevent a person from going to the hospital or becoming more seriously ill if they are already infected with COVID-19.  Monoclonal antibodies help a person’s body fight off COVID-19, and antiviral medications help prevent the virus from spreading through the body. They are effective if taken within a few days of when COVID-19 symptoms began. These are treatments for non-hospitalized individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Summary Table of Food and Drug Administration Authorized Treatments for high-risk patients.

What do I need to know before my appointment?

Once you have located a treatment center, make sure to call ahead to learn about their policies for COVID-19 patients.  

  • Confirm whether you need a prescription or referral from a doctor before your appointment, and whether you should bring your positive test results.
  • Make sure to ask whether there will be any co-pays for your visit.
  • Ask how long your appointment will take.  Monoclonal antibody infusions may take up to an hour and may have an observation time afterward.  

Treatments for hospitalized COVID-19 patients

There are also medications available to treat people who are in the hospital with severe illness from COVID-19. You can find more information about treatments for hospitalized patients on the FDA webpage [Español ]

For more information about available medications to treat COVID-19, visit the VDH FAQs about Treatment for COVID-19. 

What if I’m not at high risk for severe illness?

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and you are not at high-risk for severe illness, your healthcare provider may recommend treatments to reduce your symptoms and help your body fight the virus

  • Drink water to stay hydrated
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Take medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever/li>

COVID-19 vaccination vs. medication

COVID-19 medications will not help end this pandemic and will not reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our families and communities. Vaccines can. All people aged 5 years or older should get vaccinated today.

*Postexposure Prophylaxis - this is a medication that is taken after you are exposed to a person with COVID-19 but before you get sick, in an effort to prevent you from getting sick

**Pre-exposure Prophylaxis - this is a medication that can be taken before possible exposure to a person with COVID-19 to prevent you from catching COVID-19. 

***Outpatient Treatment - this is medication that you receive when you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are well enough to stay home from the hospital.

Learn more

Resources for more information:

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