FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — COVID-19 cases on the rise in Florida means more people are searching for monoclonal antibody treatment. The only state-run site in northwest Florida is in Fort Walton Beach and that was slated to close at the end of this year, but the Florida Department of Health (FDH) says it will now be open for the foreseeable future.
This is the only walk-up treatment site in north Florida besides Jacksonville.
“I think a lot of people that don’t know there are limited places where it is available,” said Richard Butterworth, who received the monoclonal antibody treatment Wednesday. “If you do test positive for covid this will give you another barrier.”
Butterworth drove from Navarre for free treatment after he tested positive for COVID-19. There are Hospitals and medical centers in the area that offer the treatment but require a doctor’s referral and positive test.
FDH says to combat the omicron variant the state asked for more federal resources of the Regeneron treatments at state-run sites. Northwest Florida has plenty of doses.
“I know that area has not had the same increase as south Florida,” said Jeremy Redfern, Press Secretary with the Florida Department of Health. “Obviously those other parts of the state we will be pushing supplies on an as-needed basis.”
FDH encourages anyone who is exposed to COVID-19 to get treatment quickly. Doctors say the antibody therapy reduces the risk of severe illness by 70 percent and reduces the risk of catching the virus by 80 percent.
“I would recommend that if anyone has it and wants an extra line of defense to come here and get it,” said Butterworth.
FDH has no plans to open any new antibody treatment locations in the region but they are looking at adding the AstraZeneca antibody therapy to the fairground site.
That treatment is for those who have had a bad reaction to COVID-19 vaccines or are moderate to severely immunocompromised. The closest place in our region for that treatment currently is Pensacola.