This image provided by Pfizer in October 2021 shows the company's COVID-19 Paxlovid pills. Newly infected COVID-19 patients have two new treatment options that can be taken at home. But that convenience comes with a catch: The pills have to be taken as soon as possible once symptoms appear. Credit: Pfizer via AP

The two antiviral medications that were approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration to ease the symptoms of COVID-19 will be available through Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in Maine.

The Walmart Inc. companies have received limited supplies of Pfizer’s Paxlovid and  Merck’s Molnupiravir antiviral drugs through the U.S. Federal Retail Pharmacy Therapeutics Program, and effective Dec. 30, 2021, the medications are available after obtaining a prescription from a medical provider.

The companies have launched a website that will allow users to locate the nearest store that will be able to provide the prescription. Those prescribed the medication will be able to receive iit from a participating pharmacy through curbside pick up or drive-thru pharmacy windows to minimize contact and the potential to spread COVID-19.

Pfizer’s medication, when taken as early as possible after infection is detected, was shown in studies to be 90 percent effective in reducing hospitalization. Merck’s pill was shown in studies to be less effective, reducing severe hospitalizations by about 30 percent. It also carries a warning discouraging use during pregnancy.

Walmart pharmacies will also continue to provide access to the flu vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines and other preventative vaccines.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.