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Testing and treatment can help ward off winter flu virus


Public Health recommends Paxlovid shot

With the winter season approaching, rates of COVID-19, flu, and RSV will likely rise in the coming weeks and in case of infection or exposure, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) encourages residents to become familiar with testing and treatment options that are available in order to reduce risk for themselves and their loved ones.

Public Health advises that if a person is experiencing respiratory symptoms, such as a fever, sore throat, or cough, that they stay home, test for COVID-19, and if needed, seek treatment.

In general, while most minor respiratory virus infections improve with simple steps—resting, drinking plenty of fluids and taking over the counter medications to help reduce fevers, sore throat and body aches. There are prescription medications available that can help to reduce the risk of severe illness. Antiviral medications are available for COVID-19 and flu and for those who are eligible, should be started as soon as possible after symptoms begin.  

Paxlovid, the antiviral medication to treat COVID-19 is widely available in Los Angeles County at no cost. Currently there is ample supply of Paxlovid courses provided though the U.S. government, available at Los Angeles County pharmacies, Public Health Centers, and through Public Health telehealth services, provided free to residents through the Public Health Call Center (number listed below).

Adults and children 12 years and older who test or are suspected positive for COVID, who have underlying health conditions or factors that may result in more severe illness from COVID-19, are eligible to take Paxlovid, which must be started within five days of symptom onset. Public Health encourages everyone to speak with their provider about Paxlovid if they test positive.

Due to the recent commercialization of medications to treat COVID-19, transitioning from federal government supplied doses, patients should check with the provider or pharmacy that they are picking up from about whether they are still getting the product for free. If not, they should ask about the co-pay savings program which they can use if they have commercial insurance. More information can be found at For those eligible for a therapeutic medicine for COVID, public health offers a free telehealth visit and free medication.

A recent study looking at the effectiveness of Paxlovid against Omicron strains showed that there was a 37 percent reduction in hospitalization from a COVID-19 infection and an 84 percent reduction in death among people who completed a course of Paxlovid.

An at-home test can help determine if a respiratory infection is COVID-19. Testing is recommended if a person has respiratory virus symptoms, if they have been exposed to COVID-19, or when they are visiting or going to a gathering with people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, such as older family members.

The best protection against viruses this winter is vaccination, recommended for all residents six months and older. The updated COVID-19 vaccine is available at pharmacies, Public Health sites, and at community events. Residents can find a convenient location for them and their families to get vaccinated at and get the annual flu vaccine at the same time.

For more information, contact the Public Health call center, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at (833) 540-0473.