Who can get antivirals
Some people with a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are eligible for treatment with COVID-19 antiviral medicines. These medicines reduce the amount of virus in your body, so you do not get as sick and you are less likely to go to hospital.
You can get a prescription for antivirals from your doctor or hauora provider. Some pharmacies can supply antivirals without a prescription.
You can get free antiviral medicines if you:
- have COVID-19 and symptoms or you are a Household Contact and have symptoms, and
- became sick within the last 5 days, and
- meet one of the additional antiviral eligibility criteria.
Eligible people include:
- Māori or Pacific people aged 50 or over
- everyone aged 65 or over
- anyone aged 50 or over, who has not completed a primary course of vaccination
- anyone with a severely weakened immune system
- anyone with Down syndrome
- anyone with sickle cell disease
- anyone who has previously been in critical high dependency hospital care from COVID-19
- anyone with a disability who is at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- anyone with frailty or vulnerability due to one or more severe health conditions
You are also eligible if you have 3 or more high-risk factors for severe illness from COVID-19.
When to take COVID-19 antiviral medicines
COVID-19 antiviral medicines are available to treat eligible people with COVID-19 at home.
You must start taking COVID-19 medicines within the first 5 days of becoming unwell with COVID-19.
When taken early in your COVID-19 illness, antivirals can help you stay out of hospital.
These medicines are free for eligible people within 5 days of their symptoms starting.
How to get antivirals
If you test positive for COVID-19 or are a Household Contact
Talk to your doctor or nurse by phone to see if getting a prescription is right for you. They will help you work out if you are eligible for COVID-19 medicine. It will depend on several factors, including your age, ethnicity, other health conditions and vaccination status.
Many pharmacists will be able to supply COVID-19 antivirals without a prescription if you test positive or are a Household Contact. The pharmacist will check your eligibility.
Talk to your pharmacist or a registered nurse either immediately after you test positive or develop symptoms to see if the medicines are right for you.
If you are at risk of serious illness but do not have COVID-19 symptoms
If you are at risk of becoming very unwell with COVID-19 you may be able to get a prescription before you get COVID-19.
This means the pharmacist will have the prescription ready to use if you become unwell.
If you test positive, you can then arrange to have the medicine delivered by your friends, whānau or the pharmacy.
Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will confirm that it is still safe for you to take COVID-19 medicines.
You will not be able to get the medicine until you test positive for COVID-19.
Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or Hauora provider if you think that you, or a member of your whānau may be eligible for antiviral medicines. You can also ask if getting a prescription before you get unwell is right for you.
Find a pharmacy
Pharmacies supplying antivirals can be found on Healthpoint.
You will need a prescription to get antivirals at these pharmacies:
You can get antivirals without a prescription at these pharmacies:
How to get medicines if you are isolating
If you have COVID-19, we recommend you isolate for 5 days, even if you only have mild symptoms.
If you are eligible for antiviral medicines, arrange to have them delivered by friends, whānau or by other means. Some pharmacies can deliver the medicine.
Medicines given in hospital
Some other medicines are available to treat COVID-19 but are only given in hospital.
Pharmac, the agency which decides what medicines are available in New Zealand, has more information on its website.
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