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If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, treatment with monoclonal antibodies can significantly reduce your risk for hospitalization and death. They also can be used to prevent infection if you aren’t fully vaccinated and have had significant exposure.

A joint pilot program among Chaffee County EMS, Heart of The Rockies Regional Medical Center, and Chaffee County Public Health is offering monoclonal antibody, free treatment through Dec. 12 to those who meet eligibility criteria.

There are two ways to be eligible for the therapy: You’ve either tested positive for COVID-19 and are high risk for developing severe symptoms (over age 65, overweight, have chronic lung, heart or kidney disease, among other factors) or you were exposed to COVID-19 and meet criteria further described below.

You don’t need to make an appointment or get an order from a healthcare provider. Come to the blue tent at Heart of The Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC) in Salida between 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, or Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wear a mask and bring your insurance card if you are insured. While there is no charge to you, there may be a small fee charged to insurance. Uninsured people are welcome.

Q: What are monoclonal antibodies?
A: Monoclonal antibodies are a treatment for COVID-19 that can lessen the risk of death and hospitalization by 70 to 80 percent. Grown in a lab, they can restore, enhance, or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells. Monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 may neutralize or block the virus from attaching to human cells.

Q: I have had COVID-19 for two weeks, am I still eligible for monoclonal antibodies?
A: No. Monoclonal antibodies must be given within 10 days of symptom onset.

 Q: I tested positive for COVID-19, but I feel fine. Should I still consider monoclonal antibodies?
A: If you are in a high-risk category, yes, you should consider treatment, regardless of symptoms.

Q: What is the science behind monoclonal antibodies?
A: In a clinical trial of more than 4,000 people with mild to moderate COVID-19, monoclonal antibodies demonstrated a 70 percent reduction in COVID-19 related hospitalization or all-cause death compared to a placebo.

For prevention of getting COVID-19 in those not fully vaccinated and after having significant exposure to a known COVID-19 positive person, monoclonal antibodies decreased the risk of getting COVID-19 by up to 81 percent.

Q: Are monoclonal antibodies FDA-approved?
A: Monoclonal antibodies are administered under an FDA emergency use-authorization (EUA).

Q: What are the risks in getting monoclonal antibodies?

A: Side effects may include allergic reactions and hypersensitivity, redness and itching at the site of injection, and bruising. Side effects were noted in about 0.2 percent (two out of 1,000 people) of those receiving an IV infusion. These are not all the possible side effects of monoclonal antibodies. Serious and unexpected side effects may happen.

Q: How are they given?
A: Monoclonal antibodies are given by either a subcutaneous injection or via an IV infusion.

Q: How long does treatment take?
A: Between 90 minutes and 2 hours. IV (intravenous) infusions are given over 30-60 minutes. Subcutaneous (under the skin) injections take about ten minutes. All patients receiving monoclonal antibodies must stay on-site for an additional 60-minute observation.

Q: Do monoclonal antibodies contain tissue from fetuses or fetal stem cells?
A: No. However, some monoclonal antibodies may have been tested on fetal stem cell lines.

Q: Does this replace the need to get vaccinated?
A: No. Monoclonal antibodies are not a substitute for vaccination. Vaccination is an important part in protecting yourself from COVID-19. However, one should wait approximately 90 days to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as it may suppress the effect of the vaccine, or for at least 30 days after receiving monoclonal antibodies for post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19.

Q: How do I get them?
A: Between now and Dec. 12, just show up at the blue tent in the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center Emergency Room parking lot and call the phone number listed on the signs. Please do not come into the blue tent or the hospital unless you are specifically instructed to do so. No appointment is needed, and you do not need an order from your doctor.

Q: Do I have to be a legal U.S. resident to receive monoclonal antibodies?
A: No.

Q: I tested positive on a home test; can I use that to get monoclonal antibodies?
A: Yes. You do not need to bring proof of being COVID-19 positive with you.

Q: What can I expect after getting monoclonal antibody treatments?
A: Most people report no side effects and that within 24 hours of receiving monoclonal antibodies their symptoms of COVID-19 diminish and they feel better.

Q: Can I get a COVID-19 test at the blue tent?
A: No. Unfortunately, due to time and labor constraints, testing is not available at this site (at HRRMC). However, we may test those seeking post-exposure protection before administering monoclonal antibodies.

Q: Does my vaccination status (vaccinated or not) change my eligibility for monoclonal antibodies?
A: No. If you have COVID-19 and meet the criteria for being high risk for COVID-19 disease progression it does not matter if you are vaccinated or not. Post-exposure prophylaxis is only available for use for adult and pediatric persons (≥12 years of age and weighing ≥40 kg) who are at high risk of clinical progression or are not fully vaccinated (or not expected to mount an adequate immune response to complete SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, and have been exposed to an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Q: If I have COVID-19 and get monoclonal antibodies do I still have to stay in isolation?
A: Yes. Monoclonal antibodies prevent disease progression and may lessen your symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to others for up to ten days after symptom onset and you must continue to isolate until the end of your isolation period.

Q: I have been placed on quarantine following exposure to a person with COVID-19. Does receiving monoclonal antibodies allow me to get out of quarantine early?
A: No. You must remain in quarantine for the period you were instructed.

Q: Is this authorized for use in children?
A: Yes. You must be at least 12 years of age to receive monoclonal antibodies.

Please contact your healthcare provider if you have additional questions.