Video Transcript: Anti-viral medication

Read the transcript for our 'Anti-viral medication' video.

COVID-19 had a significant impact on lives in Aotearoa New Zealand, and presented unique challenges for ethnic communities.

The Ministry for Ethnic Communities partnered with Manatū Hauora - Minsitry of Health to both educate and vaccinate throughout the pandemic. To further support our communities, we are releasing a series of videos to increase awareness of the available health services you can access.

In this video we’ll share general information about COVID-19 antiviral medicines.

COVID-19 is still present in our community and it’s possible new variants will continue to develop. This means some people in our communities are still at risk of getting COVID-19, which could lead to them becoming very sick.

COVID-19 antiviral medicines can help you if you are at risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19. They reduce the amount of virus in your body so you do not get as sick, and you are less likely to go to the hospital.

You can get free antiviral medicines if:

  • you have COVID-19 and symptoms, or you are a household contact and have symptoms,
  • you became sick within the last 5 days, and
  • you are eligible for the medicine.

Eligible people include:

  • anyone aged 65 or over
  • anyone aged 50 or over with fewer than 2 COVID-19 vaccinations
  • anyone with a severely weakened immune system
  • anyone with Down syndrome
  • anyone with sickle cell disease
  • anyone who has previously been in critical or high dependency hospital care from COVID-19
  • anyone with 3 or more high-risk medical conditions.
  • and all Māori or Pacific people aged 50 or older are also eligible.

You can read about who’s eligible at

You need to start taking antiviral medicines within the first 5 days of feeling sick with COVID-19. When taken early in your COVID-19 illness, they can help you stay out of hospital. They are not for use with long COVID.

If you’re unable to leave home, you can arrange for someone to pick up the medicine for you, or the pharmacy can deliver it for free.

You take the medicine for 5 days. Like all medicines, it can cause side effects, but not everyone will get them. Side effects are usually mild and temporary, and they should pass after you finish the medicine. You can find out more about the side effects at

For any other health needs call Healthline on 0800 611 116. Interpreting services will be available if you need them.

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