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Evusheld offers another layer of protection for patients who may not respond well to COVID vaccine

The FDA has authorized Evusheld for preventative use in patients at high-risk for COVID-19 who have not yet been exposed to the virus.
Peter Bostrom
The FDA has authorized Evusheld for preventative use in patients at high-risk for COVID-19 who have not yet been exposed to the virus.

Unlike other monoclonal antibody therapies, Evusheld is not meant to treat active coronavirus infection. Instead, it's preventative medicine for people with compromised immune systems.

Patients who may not respond well to COVID-19 vaccines because of health issues can access a drug to give them added protection from the virus. Some hospitals in the state are offering a therapy known as Evusheld, from the drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Evusheld is a monoclonal antibody, but unlike the drugs some COVID patients have benefited from in recent months, this one is not meant to treat active infection. Instead, the FDA has authorized Evusheld for patients who haven't been exposed to the coronavirus.

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The injections are recommended for those who either may not respond well to vaccines because of a compromised immune system, or can't get the shots because of past allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines or their components.

Dr. Peggy Duggan, Tampa General Hospital's chief medical officer, said they have a good supply and are primarily coordinating treatments through the hospital’s oncology clinic. She encourages eligible patients to take advantage.

“It's [Evusheld] got a long half-life so you are protected for about 120 days and it's incredibly effective against omicron, particularly, so it's really important,” she said.

Duggan stressed Evusheld is not a substitute for vaccines for people who just don't want them. Patients need prescriptions from health providers to access the medicine.

Sarasota Memorial Health System is also offering Evusheld to high-risk inpatients and outpatients, including transplant patients, certain cancer patients and people certain immuno-suppressing medications, according to spokesperson Kim Savage.

Interested patients can contact the hospital’s Evusheld hotline at 941-917-6870 for more information.

You can find more health facilities in the state offering Evusheld on the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 treatment locator.

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Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters, WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.