As hospitalizations related to COVID continue to rise, New Jersey has gotten a new weapon in efforts to ease the strain on healthcare resources.

Two recently approved anti-viral pills have been shipped to 50 Walgreens Pharmacy locations in New Jersey.

Pfizer's Paxlovid and Merk's molnupiravir are intended for those with mild or moderate COVID-19 who are more likely to become seriously ill. Taken with the first five days of symptoms, the drugs have been shown effective at preventing hospitalizations.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services selected New Jersey as one of 30 states to receive the two drugs. New Jersey was allotted 6,340 doses. More than 4,000 doses have arrived as of this week.

Federal health officials say both drugs have been shown effective in treatment of the omicron variant.

For hospitals, that is good news. They have been hoping for at-home therapies that could prevent the need for hospitalizations.

Staffing shortages among medical workers, especially nurses, have made this latest surge in cases particularly difficult to deal with.

Projections from the New Jersey Department of Health show as many as 8,000 people could require hospitalization due to COVID by mid-February. That would be the most ever during the pandemic.

While the new drugs are welcome news for strained hospitals, just how it will be administered and to whom remains unclear. State health officials have yet to issue specific guidelines. It is anticipated that those with underlying health conditions or considered high risk for hospitalizations will get priority.

Omicron impact on COVID cases in NJ

As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its third calendar year in New Jersey, some things have stayed true (hand-washing, advice to vaccinate) while others have evolved along with the latest variant (less monoclonal antibody treatments, new at-home anti-viral pills).

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.


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