The Victorian Government advises that vaccination still provides the best protection against COVID-19. But if you do contract COVID, there is now treatment available that can prevent you from becoming seriously ill.
Lagevrio and Paxlovid are antiviral tablets that are being used for early treatment against COVID-19. They need to be taken within the first five days of symptoms developing in order to be most effective. That’s why it’s important to get tested as soon as you start to develop symptoms – particularly if you are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus. It is also worthwhile to discuss with your doctor ahead of time how you will access these medications if you need them.
Antivirals are now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for people over 70. For people with two or more risk factors for severe disease, the age limit has been lowered to 50 (over 30 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders). This means you will pay as little as $6.80 for one of these treatments if you have a concession card.
Risk factors that can increase your risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 include:
- living in residential aged care
- living with disability with multiple conditions and/or frailty (but not limited to living in supported accommodation)
- neurological conditions like stroke or dementia and demyelinating conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- chronic respiratory conditions including COPD, moderate or severe asthma
- obesity or diabetes (type I or II requiring medication)
- heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies
- kidney failure or cirrhosis
- living remotely with reduced access to higher level healthcare.
You can’t get Lagevrio and Paxlovid at the counter – you’ll need a prescription from your GP, or a GP at a respiratory clinic. Please note that Paxlovid is not recommended for people with severe kidney or liver disease. You should talk to your GP about alternative treatments if you have either of these conditions.