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COVID-19 medication locally available


A COVID-19 medication 'Evusheld' that offers greater protection for residents with compromised immune systems is now available in Wangaratta and surrounding areas.

A COVID-19 medication that offers greater protection for residents with compromised immune systems is now available in Wangaratta and surrounding areas.

Evusheld offers increased protection against COVID-19 for people with conditions or on medications that prevent them from receiving the full protection offered by COVID-19 vaccinations.

Doctor, nurse and clinent stood outside hospital front entrance
Infectious Diseases Physician Dr David Turner and Clinical Coordinator Susan Christie, administered Evusheld to local resident Lauren McCully (pictured middle).

It is not a replacement for vaccination but can be given to patients on certain immunosuppressive medications or with certain conditions, such as blood cancers to help boost their protection.

Evusheld consists of two antibodies that are injected into a patient and boost their immunity to COVID-19. The antibodies work to protect a patient from contracting COVID-19 if they are exposed and offer up to 6 months of protection. This is different to anti-virals which can be administered after a person has already contracted COVID-19.

NHW is able to administer Evusheld to suitable patients through local Infectious Diseases Physician David Turner. It will be administered primarily through the Hospital in The Home (HITH) Program so that eligible patients can receive this care at home without attending the hospital.

One of the first patients to receive a treatment of Evusheld is local woman Lauren McCully, who has Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

“Because of the immunotherapy I take to keep MS at bay, it means I am severely immunocompromised,” she said.

“I’ve received five COVID-19 vaccinations but because of the MS medication, vaccinations don’t offer me the same protection as they do for someone who is not immunocompromised.

“I’ve followed the release of Evusheld in the United States and as soon as it became available in Australia, I talked to my GP and Neurologist about how I could receive it.”

Lauren was referred to Dr Turner and will receive two injections through NHW’s Hospital in the Home program on Thursday morning.

She said she was excited about having the protection offered by Evusheld.

“We’ve been extremely proactive as a family throughout the last two and half years,” she said.

“I’ve been wearing an N95 mask throughout that time and my kids wear N95 masks to school.

“I didn’t set foot in a shopping centre for 17 months – it’s very much changed the way we’ve functioned as a family.

“I’ll still keep doing those things but this does give me just a little bit more confidence that I have some protection.”

Dr Turner is very excited to help provide this therapy to local patients.
“Living in a rural community can mean reduced access to the latest medical treatments,” he said.

“We hope this will enable more local people to receive this treatment without the need to attend the hospital.

“The last few years have been an extremely challenging time for people living with significant medical conditions that impair the immune system.

“Many patients have had to take extra precautions or reduce their interactions with family and friends due to the fear of infection.

“This treatment is aimed at reducing the risks these patients face every day when they catch up with friends or visit the supermarket.”

HITH Clinical Coordinator Susan Christie said the past six months has seen unprecedented growth in home based acute care activity.

“Our ability to meet increasing demand for this type of care is largely due to Dr Turner’s appointment at the beginning of this year as the medical lead to the HITH unit,” she said.

“This has enabled us to expand our services to reach new patient groups, such as those people like Lauren, who are now eligible for Evusheld.”

Local residents with compromised immune systems are encouraged to speak with their GP or treating specialists about their suitability to be referred to NHW for consideration of Evusheld.