close up shot of a health worker injecting a vaccine on a patient

Step up in Covid battle

MORE Tasmanians now have access to the Covid vaccine “winter dose’’ and antiviral medication and authorities are urging locals to protect themselves, their families and the community by taking action.

As Covid positive cases soar and local hospitals are under strain due to the number of cases and staff illness the Federal Government has expanded eligibility for medications which will protect people from the more severe impact of Covid 19. Since Monday access to potentially lifesaving Covid antiviral treatments has been expanded, with all Tasmanians aged over 70 who test positive able to access antivirals on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Premier Jeremy Rockliff said antiviral access would also be expanded to people aged over 50 with two or more risk factors for severe disease, and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged over 30 with two or more risk factors for severe disease.

“Taken as a tablet or capsule, Tasmanians can access these potentially lifesaving oral treatments through their GP or through the COVID@homeplus program,’’ Mr Rockliff said. “Antivirals help prevent Covid-19 infection from becoming severe, but they are not a replacement for vaccination or Covid safe behaviours. “To maximise their effectiveness it is important that antivirals are taken as early as possible after testing positive. “Therefore, I encourage Tasmanians to continue to get tested as soon as they have symptoms or are notified as a close contact, and to register for COVID@ homeplus. This important change, alongside expansion of winter booster vaccine eligibility announced on Friday, will help protect Tasmanians from the severe effects of Covid-19 and reduce the impact on our health system.’’

Adults aged 50-64 years of age are recommended to receive the extra “winter dose’’, while those aged 30 to 49 years will also be eligible. “A winter dose of a Covid-19 vaccine is already recommended for people at greatest risk of severe illness from Covid-19, and I would strongly encourage these groups to get that critical extra protection if they haven’t already.’’

Covid-19 and influenza vaccinations are available across Tasmania at participating GPs and pharmacies, and additional state-run clinics will be opened. “There has also been an important change to the re-infection period for Covid-19. People who have symptoms of Covid-19 from 28 days after their previous release from isolation should stay at home, test and isolate for at least seven days if they test positive.’