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Medicine to Treat COVID-19

What you need to know

As soon as you start to feel sick, take a COVID-19 test and seek free COVID treatment right away.

  • Treatment can prevent you from getting very sick. See box.
  • Treatment must be started early. The oral medicines must be started within 5 days of when symptoms begin. Intravenous (IV) treatment must be started within 7 days. Do not wait for your symptoms to get worse.
  • Many adults and some children qualify for treatment. You can get treatment even if you have had COVID before, or if you have been vaccinated. Learn more below. You don’t need to have insurance or be a US citizen. You do need a prescription.
  • You may qualify for treatment even if your test is negative. If you were exposed to someone with COVID and you have symptoms, ask for treatment even if you test negative. If a doctor thinks your symptoms are from COVID, they can treat you without a positive test.
  • The medicines are free. Find out where to get treatment.
  • The medicines work well against the variants of COVID-19 that are currently circulating.
  • Treatment does not cause rebound infection. Rebound happens at similar rates in untreated and treated people. For more information see COVID-19 Rebound FAQs.

Many adults and some children qualify for treatment if they have symptoms of COVID-19 AND either test positive for COVID-19 OR a doctor recommends treatment.

You may qualify for treatment if you:

  • Are age 50 or older, or
  • Are unvaccinated or not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, or
  • Have one or more of the health conditions or characteristics below (even if you have had COVID-19 before or have been vaccinated).
  • Are a member of a community that has been disproportionally affected by COVID-19
  • Cancer
  • Cerebrovascular disease/stroke
  • Chronic kidney, liver, or lung disease, including cystic
    fibrosis, tuberculosis, and moderate to severe asthma
  • Dementia or other neurological condition
  • Diabetes
  • Disability
  • Heart condition
  • Immune system problem including HIV infection, organ or bone marrow transplant, or on medication like steroids, chemotherapy
  • Mental health condition
  • Overweight, obese, or physically inactive
  • Pregnant
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Smoker, current or former
  • Substance use disorder

The list does not include all possible conditions or situations. For details of who is at higher risk of severe illness, visit the CDC webpage People with Certain Medical Conditions. If you have questions, contact your doctor.

For information about what to do if you have COVID-19, visit ph.lacounty.gov/covidisolation. This includes telling your doctor, monitoring your symptoms, and knowing when you need emergency medical care.

Why should I take COVID treatment, especially if my symptoms are mild?
  • Treatment can prevent you from getting very sick.
    For example, the oral medicine Paxlovid reduces the risk of death or hospitalization from COVID-19 by 50-88% for unvaccinated people. It also reduces this risk by 45-50% for vaccinated people and people who were infected with COVID-19 in the past.
  • Treatments can stop the virus from multiplying in your body and infecting more of your cells, so they may help you feel better sooner and test negative sooner.
  • Early evidence also suggests COVID-19 treatment may lower the risk of developing long COVID. Long COVID is when people experience symptoms or medical issues weeks, months, or even years after a COVID infection.
  • From your doctor or urgent care center
    To fill your prescription, click here, enter your address or zip code, and click on the box “Locations to fill a prescription”.
  • A Test to Treat site
    To find a location, click here, enter your address or zip code, and click on the box “Locations with testing, medical visits, and medication (Test-to-Treat).
  • From a pharmacy
    Some pharmacies, including some CVS and Walgreens, can prescribe oral medicine to treat COVID. Call your pharmacy to see if they offer this service.
  • Public Health Call Center/Tele-Health Service
    Call 1-833-540-0473 (7 days a week, 8:00 am – 8:30 pm). This is a good option for people who don’t have a doctor or health insurance or can't get an appointment.

If you need to leave home to get medical care, wear a respirator or medical mask that fits well to help protect others. See ph.lacounty.gov/masks for more information. Have someone else who does not have COVID pick up your prescription if possible.


The 3 medicines in the table below are available to treat mild to moderate COVID-19. Two are medicines that are taken by mouth (pills) and one is an IV infusion. They all work by helping to prevent the virus from multiplying in your body. All 3 medicines are authorized or approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19.

  • Paxlovid is the recommended treatment for most people. It is very effective, easy to take, and safe. Talk to your doctor if you are taking other medicines. They may tell you to stop or lower the dose of your medicines while you take Paxlovid.
  • The most common side effects are mild, such as nausea or a bitter taste. Learn more about side effects for Paxlovid or Molnupiravir.
Treatment Who it is suitable for When to start the medicine How to take the medicine
Adults and children ages 12 and over who weigh at least 88 pounds. As soon as possible. Must begin within 5 days of symptoms starting By mouth at home twice a day for 5 days
Adults (18 yrs and older)
Adults and children over 28 days old who weigh at least 3kg (about 7 pounds) As soon as possible. Within 7 days of symptoms starting By infusion into a vein at a healthcare facility every day for 3 days

*Molnupiravir is not recommended for use during pregnancy and is only recommended if other treatment medications are not available or appropriate.

Only take treatments prescribed by a health care provider.
People have been seriously harmed and even died after taking products not authorized for COVID-19, even if they have been approved or prescribed for other uses.

COVID-19 Treatments Are Not a Substitute for the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Vaccines are safe, effective, free, and widely available. They can protect you and others from getting very sick with COVID-19.

Wear a mask

You should never be charged for the oral medicines Paxlovid or Lagevrio. And you don’t need to be a US citizen to get medicines. If you were told you would be charged, please report the pharmacy to the California Department of Public Health at go.cdph.ca.gov/covidpharmacyreporting or 1-833-422-4255. A facility may charge for administering Veklury the medicine that is given by injection. There may also be charges for the doctor’s visit or other office charges.

A law requires all health plans in California to cover the cost of COVID-19 tests, evaluation for treatments, vaccines and treatment with no cost-sharing in most circumstances. See Know Your Health Care Rights for details. Medicare and Medi-Cal cover all costs. If you do not have insurance, ask the treatment facility if there are fees. The DPH Tele-health Service is completely free.


In an emergency when lives are at risk, the FDA can issue an EUA to make a treatment available before it has completed a formal approval process as long as there’s evidence that strongly suggests that people benefit from the treatment. The FDA can also issue an EUA for unapproved uses of approved drugs for life-threatening conditions. Certain conditions must be met for an EUA to be issued, including that there are no other adequate, approved, and available options. Paxlovid and Lagevrio have EUAs. Velkury has FDA approval.

To learn more about EUAs, visit the FDA EUA webpage.

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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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