COVID-19 is here with us to stay for some time.
As a community we have endured isolation, lockdowns, reduced access to services, supply problems, mask mandates and a seemingly continual conga line of vaccinations.
Methods have been introduced to reduce the impacts and risks of COVID-19 including vaccination, mask mandates, social distancing and increased hand sanitizing access.
Now, the arsenal against COVID-19 has been expanded to include antivirals, which have shown to reduce hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 substantially.
The Tasmanian state government has put forward funding to help general practices pre-screen ‘at risk’ patients prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19, and funding to pharmacies to stock these expensive antivirals to ensure timely supply.
Patients at higher risk from the disease of COVID-19 are:
- Patients aged 70 or older.
- Patients aged 50 or older with two further risk factors for severe disease
- Patients aged 30 and older and are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin with two further risk factors for severe disease
- Patients aged over 18 and moderately to severely immunocompromised
The risk factors for severe disease include but are not limited to: moderate to severe asthma, COPD, heart failure, obesity, diabetes requiring medications to control blood sugars, disability, kidney impairment, cirrhosis, residential aged care, certain neurological conditions, heart failure, cardiomyopathies and geographic isolation to higher level healthcare.
At no time can a doctor or nurse prescribe a PBS subsidised antiviral prior to a diagnosis of COVID-19.
The purpose for the funding is to pre-screen patients and have the patient ready to be prescribed an antiviral in the event of a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Once a pre-screening appointment has been conducted, this patient then only has to ring the medical practice for a prescription to be supplied to their pharmacy of choice for delivery or pick-up by a COVID-19 negative friend or family member.
If you are an ‘at risk’ patient from COVID-19, please make an appointment with your medical practitioner for a pre-assessment screening.
This ensures that you have timely access to antiviral therapy.