Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 antiviral treatment in Ottawa
Health officials in Ottawa are letting the public know they may be eligible for the COVID-19 antiviral treatment and how to seek treatment if you test positive, as COVID-19 levels remain high over the Easter weekend.
This week, the Ontario government expanded eligibility for COVID-19 antiviral treatments to increase protection to the most vulnerable and ensure hospital capacity remains stable.
The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce answers frequently asked questions about eligibility, and where and how to seek treatment in Ottawa.
WHAT IS THE ANTIVIRAL TREATMENT?
“Antiviral treatments, such as Paxlovid, are free antiviral medications that are taken orally,” the Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce said in a statement.
“Although it is not a replacement for vaccination or other recommended precautions, in a clinical trial Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 per cent in people at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.”
Health Canada approved the oral treatment in January.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE ANTIVIRAL TREATMENT?
The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce says Paxlovid is given to adults who are at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
The following higher-risk groups are eligible to be tested and assessed for antiviral treatments in Ottawa and across Ontario:
- Individuals aged 18 and over who are immunocompromised (have an immune system that is weakened by a health condition or medications)
- Individuals aged 70 and older
- Individuals aged 60 and older with fewer than three vaccine doses
- Individuals aged 18 and older with fewer than three vaccine doses and at least one risk condition: Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure, chronic lung disease, moderate or severe kidney disease, cerebral palsy, sickle cell disease, moderate or severe liver disease or pregnancy
The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce notes Paxlovid is not approved for use in children and youth under the age of 18.
WHEN SHOULD TREATMENT BEGIN?
The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce and the Ontario government note treatment for antivirals must start within five days of symptoms in most cases.
I SHOULD BE ASSESSED FOR TREATMENT. WHAT DO I DO?
If you are an adult who is part of the higher risk groups and if you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should immediately seek testing and care by contacting your health care provider, or by visiting one of Ottawa’s clinical assessment clinics. The clinics in Ottawa are:
- The Ottawa Hospital Clinical Assessment Centre – 1081 Carling Ave., Suite 601
- Moodie COVID-19 care and testing centre – 595 Moodie Dr.
- North Grenville COVID-19 Assessment Centre – 15 Campus Dr., Kemptville
You will be tested for COVID-19, assessed, and provided treatment or a prescription.
WHERE CAN I GET A PRESCRIPTION?
More than 100 pharmacies in Ottawa are dispensing the antiviral treatment to patients with a prescription.
For more information, visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-antiviral-treatment.