COVID-19 Q&A: Evusheld is another option to prevent COVID-19 for people who have weakened immune systems

July 12, 2022
Dr. Christine Hahn, Division of Public Health

For most people, the COVID-19 vaccine offers the most consistent protection from severe disease associated with COVID-19., However, for those who can’t get the vaccine or who aren’t able to develop a strong immune response from the vaccine because they have a weakened immune system, a medicine called Evusheld may be an option.

What is Evusheld?

Evusheld is a medicine that contains antibodies. These antibodies can help prevent COVID-19 in people who don’t have a strong immune system. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization to make it available during the pandemic, and they recently changed the authorization to allow for additional doses.

How long will it provide protection against COVID-19 infection?

The additional protection lasts for as long as six months. Evusheld is given before a person is exposed or tests positive to help prevent COVID-19 infection. Evusheld is not used to treat COVID-19 symptoms.

Can I get Evusheld instead of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Unless you have a health-related reason you shouldn’t get the vaccine, you are still recommended to get the vaccine followed by Evusheld at least two weeks after vaccination. The vaccine is expected to build some natural immunity even in those with weakened immune systems. Evusheld is not a substitute for COVID-19 vaccination, because it doesn’t build any natural immunity in the body.

Who is eligible to get it?

You may be eligible for Evusheld if you are moderately or severely immunocompromised or have a history of severe allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, and you meet the following criteria:

  • You do not currently have COVID-19
  • You have not recently had close contact with someone with COVID-19
  • You are an adult or adolescent ages 12 years and older weighing at least 88 pounds

Your healthcare provider will decide if you are eligible for Evusheld and will help you get it if you are. It requires a prescription. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should get Evusheld in addition to COVID-19 vaccination.

Is this a shot or a pill, and how often does a person need to get it to be effective?

Evusheld is a combination of two antibodies, given as two shots on the same day. Based on what we know about current SARS-CoV-2 variants, you might need to receive additional doses of Evusheld every six months if ongoing protection is needed.

Your healthcare provider will monitor you for allergic reactions for at least one hour after you receive Evusheld.

Dr. Christine Hahn is Idaho’s state epidemiologist and the Division of Public Health’s medical director. She is board certified in infectious disease and works in an Idaho tuberculosis clinic twice monthly. She also serves on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and since late February 2020, has been focusing almost solely on responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

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