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DENVER (KDVR) — A first-of-its-kind antiviral pill to fight COVID and protect against severe illness will be coming to Colorado pharmacies soon.

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of Paxlovid, made by Pfizer. But it’s only available for certain groups.

The FDA says the pill can now be prescribed to people 12 years old and up who test positive for COVID and are at risk of hospitalization due to age or have medical conditions. But the medication must be given within five days of the onset of symptoms.

“So, you have to recognize your symptoms. You have to have access to testing, get a positive result, and then get the pill and take it. So that is actually fairly quick turnaround time,” said Dr. Jared Eddy, the director of infection prevention at National Jewish Health in Denver.

The hope is that the pill will reduce COVID hospitalizations. Plus, picking up a prescription is much easier than going into a facility for a monoclonal antibody infusion

“I think it’s great to have another tool,” Eddy said.

But Dr. James Neid, the director of infection prevention at the Medical Center of Aurora, warns that this medication may interact with other medications in a serious way.

“There will be black box warnings associated with the use of this medication, so you will have to be careful who you give it to,” Neid said. 

Who is eligible for the pills could change with time, but doctors say their message about fighting COVID is still the same.

“Vaccination is your best hope, and boosters if they are indicated,” Neid said.