Health Professional News

Outpatient COVID-19 medications for kids

Children’s Minnesota offers three therapies for treating or preventing COVID-19 in kids: Paxlovid, Bebtelovimab and Evusheld. These therapies are authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for kids 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds.

For kids with underlying medical conditions, these therapy options could be helpful in preventing severe COVID-19. Kids with underlying medical conditions are considered to be at high-risk for developing severe COVID-19. Underlying medical conditions include cancer, asthma or other respiratory diseases, obesity, diabetes, sickle cell disease, heart conditions, weakened immune systems and some types of disabilities.

Paxlovid and Bebtelovimab

Paxlovid is an antiviral pill (medicine taken by mouth) that could help people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at higher risk of becoming very sick. Paxlovid must be taken within the first five days of symptom onset, before the person feels very sick.

Bebtelovimab is a monoclonal antibody therapy that could help people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at higher risk of becoming very sick and are not eligible for Paxlovid. Bebtelovimab is given through an intravenous (IV) thin tube inserted into a vein in the arm. People must receive bebtelovimab within the first seven days of symptom onset, before they feel very sick.

Since both therapies need to be given within 5 to 7 days of the first COVID-19 symptoms, it’s important to test for COVID-19 as soon as symptoms begin. Talk to your child’s health care provider right away if your child tests positive and is at higher risk for developing severe COVID-19. Your child’s health care provider will assess your child to determine eligibility for COVID-19 medications.

Evusheld

Another option for kids with underlying medical conditions is Evusheld (tixagevimab/cilgavimab), a monoclonal antibody to help prevent COVID-19 in people with moderate to severe weakening of their immune system or in people who cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to a very bad reaction to the vaccine. Moderate to severe weakening of the immune system can be the result of cancer, transplant, immunodeficiencies, HIV infection and certain medications that weaken the immune system.

Evusheld is given by injection to people who do not have COVID-19 and have not been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Children’s Minnesota provides Evusheld to patients by invitation or during pre-existing appointments. Talk with your child’s health care provider if your child may be eligible for this medication.

Evusheld is not a substitute for the COVID-19 vaccination. All patients for whom the COVID-19 vaccination is recommended, including those with weak immune systems, should receive the COVID-19 vaccination. More information on Evusheld can be found here.

Where can I get COVID-19 medications for my child?

COVID-19 medications are available at Children’s Minnesota for eligible kids. Your child’s health care provider will prescribe the medication as necessary. Besides Children’s Minnesota, Paxlovid is also available on test-to-treat sites across the state that can be located here.

What is the cost of COVID-19 medications?

The federal government has purchased supplies of Paxlovid, Bebtelovimab and Evusheld and is distributing them free of charge. However, while there may not be a charge for the medication itself, there may be other fees associated with getting the treatment. Health insurance may cover most or all of these costs.

People who do not have insurance may refer to HRSA Health Center COVID-19 Therapeutics Program Participants for a list of centers for low- or no-cost treatment in their communities. Additional information on Minnesota community health centers/federally qualified health centers that provide services to medically underserved and disadvantaged populations is available at Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers: Find a Health Center.

Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about costs associated with receiving any COVID-19 treatment.

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are the best prevention

COVID-19 medications are not a substitute for prevention. It is still recommended that everyone who is eligible get vaccinated and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including mask-wearing, washing hands and social distancing.

Children’s Minnesota is administering vaccines and boosters during scheduled clinic visits. Contact your primary care clinic to schedule. In addition, please use the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) vaccine finder for kids to find other locations to receive your child’s vaccine or booster.

And as always, talk to your child’s health care provider for the best health care guidance for your child.

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Lindsay Konsor