Why do I need the COVID-19 vaccine if I can take the antiviral drug if I get sick?

Vaccination continues to be the best line of defense against preventing COVID-19. While antiviral drugs are an important and welcome advancement in COVID-19 treatments, they are no substitute for COVID-19 vaccination. New data show that oral antiviral medications may decrease the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, but these treatments won’t prevent infection — and like any treatment, they are not 100% effective. 

Furthermore, the safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials are promising, but there is a lot we don’t know yet about antiviral treatments — including availability, cost, and how these treatments may or may not affect the development of long-COVID symptoms. 

The information we have about new antiviral treatments are from clinical trials, and these medications have not yet been authorized in the United States. What we do know is that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, extremely safe and effective, free, and the best way to protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19.

Added November 15, 2021