About oral treatments for COVID-19
You need to start oral antiviral treatments within 5 days of symptoms starting or testing positive for COVID-19.
If you are 70 years or older or at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, it is important to speak to your GP about oral treatments before you get sick. You should then contact them for a script as soon as you test positive.
If you test positive and haven’t already made a plan with your GP or approved Nurse Practitioner, you should contact them as soon as possible.
If you don't have a regular GP, or can't get an appointment quickly, you can:
- call HealthDirect's free helpline on 1800 022 222
- use the health Service Finder to search for one near you.
If you are eligible for oral antiviral treatments, you will be able to pick up the medications at your local pharmacy with a prescription.
Your GP can electronically send your prescription to the pharmacy or send you an electronic script. A friend or family member can collect the medications, or you can have them delivered to your home.
You can use the Find a pharmacy website to search for nearby pharmacies that stock oral antiviral treatments.
Supplies of the COVID-19 treatments can also be accessed through state and territory health departments.
If you have a Medicare card, and are eligible, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme PBS subsidises the cost of oral antiviral COVID-19 medication.
From 1 January 2024 the maximum that a pharmacy can charge per oral medication is:
- $31.60 for general patients
- $7.70 for concession cardholders.
State and territory hospitals can provide the oral antivirals if you are advised to have treatment, but you are not eligible under the PBS.
Who should not have oral antiviral treatments
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not have any oral antiviral COVID-19 treatments. Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations will ensure protection for you and your baby.
If you have severe kidney or liver disease, you should not have the oral antiviral treatment – Paxlovid. Talk to your GP about other treatments.
COVID-19 treatments and birth control
If you are sexually active, you should use an effective form of contraception while taking oral antiviral COVID-19 treatments.
Read the Consumer Medicine Information for the treatment you are prescribed and talk to your GP about contraceptives and what is best for your situation.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory (PBAC) recommends the eligibility criteria for oral antiviral treatments to the government. The PBAC is an independent, expert body appointed by the government. The government needs the advice of PBAC before changing the eligibility criteria.
Aged care residents and their families
- COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments – Information for residents and their families in residential aged care facilities
- Fact sheet on COVID-19 vaccination and antivirals
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Oral antivial treatments for COVID-19 and eligibility (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people)