ECDOH: If you have COVID-19 symptoms, confirm a diagnosis with a lab test and talk to your doctor about prescription options
Following a New York State Department of Health health care provider call on Friday, the Erie County Department of Health is highlighting the local availability of COVID-19 oral antiviral medications, by prescription only.
With a positive coronavirus test result, individuals ages 12 years and older may be eligible to take one of two oral antiviral medications authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These two antiviral medications, Paxlovid and molnupiravir, are available with a prescription for non-hospitalized, symptomatic adults who are infected with the coronavirus and at increased risk of progressing to severe illness. Clinical trials with unvaccinated participants who started treatment with one of these drugs within five days of developing symptoms showed a reduced risk of hospitalization. For Paxlovid, that reduced risk of hospitalization was about 88%, and for molnupiravir, the reduced risk of hospitalization was about 30%.
“There is a five-day window where these two medications may have an effect on preventing more serious illness in COVID-19 patients,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “That is why we are sharing this information widely, so our medical community and the general public know about these options.”
The Medical Society of Erie County sent a communication to its members with information from the health care provider call (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/health-provider-webinars), which has detailed information and contraindications to note before prescribing these medications. ECDOH is strongly encouraging all health care providers to review this information, and to provide patients with instructions on accessing COVID-19 testing if they call or present with COVID-19 symptoms.
ECDOH has expanded COVID-19 testing to its health clinic at 608 William St., Buffalo, with PCR and rapid testing available with or without appointments weekdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. An ECDOH drive-thru testing site at the Erie County Emergency Training and Operations Center at 3359 Broadway in Cheektowaga also offers testing with or without appointments. Call 716-858-2929 to confirm hours of operation.
Common COVID-19 symptoms include, but are not limited to, fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
According to NYSDOH, these medications are generally available in New York, including at select pharmacies in Western New York. NYSDOH has published additional information on oral antivirals (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/oral-antivirals).