A guide to accessing crucial COVID-19 treatments in Maine
COVID-19 may be back on the rise in Maine with sewage testing showing greater concentrations of virus across the state after a more contagious strain of the omicron variant arrived.
he latest wave of the virus is not expected to be as deadly as previous ones. Mainers who are at high risk of severe disease have greater access to treatment options, such as monoclonal antibodies and antiviral pills, which have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19. But the availability of therapies remains limited and treatments must be accessible within a few days of the positive test to be effective.
Here’s what you need to know if you or a loved one gets COVID-19.
Who is eligible for COVID-19 treatments?
Eligibility for COVID-19 treatments is based on risk of severe disease, which is assessed based on a number of factors, including age and medical history. Your eligibility to receive treatment will ultimately be determined by a medical provider.
A range of medical conditions can make someone eligible for COVID-19 treatments, including less common conditions such as cancer or organ transplant recipient, as well as more common conditions such as obesity, pregnancy and diabetes.
See a longer list of conditions that may make someone eligible for treatment from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention here.
Where can I get treatment?
COVID-19 treatments are offered by a range of providers across the state. Some offer both on-site testing and treatment for high-risk patients, either through a federal “Test to Treat” program or separately from it.
Patients who test positive for the virus at home may also be able to obtain antiviral pills from some pharmacies, provided they first receive a prescription from a healthcare provider. Use the map below to see which facilities offer COVID-19 treatment.
When should I get treatment?
Treatments for COVID-19 are most effective in the first days after illness. That’s why health officials recommend getting tested if you show symptoms of the virus. If you test positive and you are at high risk of serious illness, you should seek treatment immediately. If it has been more than five to seven days since you tested positive, you may not be eligible for treatment.
Do the treatments still work against the new omicron variant?
Yes, the treatments offered by health care providers remain effective. As the highly contagious BA.2 variant has become dominant in Maine and the United States, federal regulators have ordered healthcare providers to stop offering certain monoclonal antibody treatments that are not effective against this strain . But other antibody treatments are still effective and remain in use.
Antiviral treatments, such as Paxlovid, work against all known variants of the virus.
Can treatments have negative interactions?
In clinical trials, approved therapeutics have been shown to be very safe and effective in reducing the likelihood of serious illness from COVID-19. However, there are eligibility limitations for patients with certain medical conditions or taking certain prescription medications.
For example, the antiviral pill Paxlovid is not recommended for patients with severe kidney or liver problems. In some cases, a provider may recommend a kidney or liver function test before prescribing Paxlovid, or they may recommend the patient receive monoclonal antibodies instead.
Be sure to tell your health care provider about any health conditions or medications you are taking so they can recommend the appropriate treatment.
Will I be charged for the treatment?
It depends. The government bought COVID-19 treatments to distribute for free. In some cases, healthcare providers may bill the patient’s insurance for the cost of administering the treatment, which can sometimes lead to co-payment – although the cost of initial treatments for COVID-19 is far less than the cost of a hospital stay. .
If you don’t have health insurance, you can apply for an emergency program through MaineCare to cover the costs of testing and treatment.