Pharmacist Advice About COVID-19
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the short form of the name Coronavirus Disease 2019. The virus causing the disease was first identified in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has eventually spread to the rest of the world in what has become an ongoing pandemic.
Can I be affected by COVID-19? What are the symptoms?
Everyone can be affected by this virus, regardless of age, race, or gender. Once infected, most individuals will have mild symptoms and the disease will resolve on its own. A subset of those infected will develop a more severe form of the disease, and will require hospitalization and attention from a healthcare professional. Once hospitalized, some may require intensive care in the form of a ventilator to help them through the worst of the disease.
Regardless of symptoms, COVID-19 can be passed on to other people by those infected simply through speaking or breathing. Coughing or sneezing produces droplets which can get in touch with another person’s mouth, nose, or eyes and infect them.
In its mild form, COVID-19 causes flu-like symptoms of coughing, sneezing, or fever. If the disease progresses, it can lead to more severe symptoms like pneumonia, which can cause breathing to be difficult. Individuals who are older, have compromised immune systems, or have other medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, are at higher risk of developing severe disease. These individuals need to take especially good care to avoid other people that may be infected by following guidelines for physical distancing and wearing masks in situations where physical distancing is impossible.
Should I get tested for COVID-19? Where can I get tested?
Due to the tests for COVID-19 not being widely available for the general population, there are guidelines on who can get tested, and it can vary from place to place. The local public health authority has the most accurate guideline on who should get tested, and where those tests can be done. People with symptoms who are at risk of severe diseases, including long-term care residents, older individuals, and those with compromised immune systems, are the first people that should be tested.
There are now 100 locations set up across Ontario for individuals to get tested, should they need to. If you believe that you need to be tested, please contact Public Health Ontario at 416-235-6556 or 1-877-604-4567, or the After-Hours Emergency Duty Officer at 416-605-3113. Health Canada has a listing of resources and a self assessment tool.
What should I do about my medications?
Pharmacies are essential businesses that are to remain active throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, they will remain able to provide your medications regularly. There is guidance from the government to only give patients 30 days of medication at a time for the duration of the pandemic, as there might be problems with distribution of medication that could cause certain deliveries to pharmacies to be late. To avoid the next person being unable to fill their prescription, a pharmacy could choose to dispense less medication that you usually get and save some for the next person. Please do not stockpile medications as this could cause others to not be able to have their medication when they need it.
In the case of a medication shortage, you might need to get a different generic brand of the same medication that you usually get, or you might need to get a different medication prescribed by your doctor if no alternatives are available. In any case, your pharmacy will inform you of any changes and they will not change your medication without speaking to your doctor first.
In the case of newly prescribed medications or refills of old prescriptions, please try to call your pharmacy and get the medication delivered to your home if possible. This will help minimize traffic at your local pharmacy and limit the spread of infection. When interacting with the delivery driver, please wear a mask or other cloth covering to protect yourself and the driver. If for any reason you are absolutely required to go to your pharmacy, please maintain physical distancing from other people and wear a mask or other cloth covering.
What can I take to prevent or treat COVID-19?
There are currently no medically-proven treatments of COVID-19. There are a few potential medications that show some promise, and these are being tested in larger populations to determine whether or not they are effective and how they should be given to patients. The only proven method of avoiding the disease is to maintain physical distancing, wear protective cloth coverings, wash your hands and disinfect them with at least 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Since no one can tell for sure how long this pandemic will last, it is important to maintain these measures for the time being so that the number of new cases are as few as possible to allow the healthcare professionals to do their job.
In general, the best way to prepare for a potential infection is to keep your immune system strong, as the only way to beat the virus is through your own system. Treatment in hospital is largely supportive in nature, rather than targeting the virus itself. Make sure that you are taking any medication you need to keep yourself as healthy as possible, ensure that you are getting a varied diet and some daily activity, as staying at home can be demoralizing to your mental health and your physical health alike. A walk around the block while maintaining all the proper physical distancing measures is a safe and effective way to keep up your spirits throughout this difficult time for everyone. Please avoid going to any crowded areas as much as possible to help combat the spread of the virus.
Health care professionals go to work for your sake, please stay home for theirs!
Public Health Ontario. (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Testing.
Retrieved from: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/laboratory-services/test-information-index/wuhan-novel-coronavirus
This article was provided by Gorazd Tasev, Pharmacist and Consultant for RXI Specialty Pharmacy in association with Rx Infinity. If you have any questions or client issues regarding this article or its contents, feel free to reach out directly to Rx Infinity or contact us here at ASSOCIUM and we will facilitate the connection or you. If your issue or question is specific to your personal and prescribed medication, please contact your physician or your providing pharmacy.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.