A monoclonal antibody treatment site is now open at the Northwest Florida Fairgrounds in Fort Walton Beach. It will be available seven days per week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says health officials can handle up to 320 treatments per day. The treatment — which is free of charge — consists of monoclonal antibodies being given to patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms of COVID-19. Vaccination status does not matter. Monoclonal antibody treatment saves lives and reduces hospitalization and death. It is intended to be used in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for progressing to severe disease and/or hospitalization. Gov. DeSantis says the monoclonal antibody treatment will ultimately decrease hospitalizations. “We saw that these treatments were underutilized and folks have now been able to get more access to it,” he said. “We’re already getting testimonials from people who have gone in and visited our sites and gotten the treatment. People say they could’ve been in the hospital or maybe even been dead had they not gotten this, and so it has a good track record and I think people will be very, very happy with the results.”
Dr. Samuel L. Jacobs, physician at the Florida Department of Health said, “The monoclonal antibody sites increase access to this treatment in communities across Florida. Had I not received monoclonal antibodies myself when I tested positive for COVID, it could have been much worse. I had received my first dose of the vaccine prior to contracting COVID and I think the monoclonal antibody treatment saved my life and I’m very grateful. If someone tests positive for COVID and especially if they’re having symptoms, I strongly stress the importance of getting monoclonal antibodies basically as a life-saving measure.”
Monoclonal antibody treatments can be prescribed by health care providers to individuals 12 years of age and older who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are at high risk for severe illness and hospitalization. However, there is currently a standing order in Florida signed by the State Surgeon General that allows patients to receive this treatment without a prescription or referral if administered by an eligible health care provider. Such referrals are not required at any of the State of Florida monoclonal antibody treatment sites and treatments are available at no cost to patients. The antibodies help the immune system recognize and respond effectively to the virus. According to the treatment guidelines, they should be administered as soon as possible after diagnosis. By providing access to these treatments at these new sites, Gov. DeSantis is alleviating demand on hospital resources and further making sure that Floridians have access to all potential treatments that can help them recover from COVID-19. Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Department of Health continue to encourage Floridians to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.