SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Pharmacists can now start prescribing the leading COVID-19 pill to patients under a new policy to expand the use of Pfizer’s drug Paxlovid.

KELOLAND News caught up to doctors from both Avera and Sanford Health to find out more about the drug and why people should hold off, for now, on getting a booster shot until the fall.

The Food and Drug Administration says pharmacists can now begin screening patients to see if they are eligible for Paxlovid.

“Initially with the earlier variants we weren’t as optimistic with it, now with omicron especially within the first five days it’s a nice treatment, but you have to catch it within the first five days,” Dr. Mike Wilde of Sanford Health said.

Pharmacists can prescribe the medication, which has been shown to curb the worst effects of COVID-19.

“Paxlovid is really pretty effective at preventing the more serious complications like hospitalizations, especially in those higher-risk individuals,” Dr. David Basel of Avera Health said.

At first, the use of Paxlovid was limited because health systems had very few doses of it.

“Now we actually have plenty of Paxlovid around and we are kind of underutilizing it now and we could have a lot more people taking it and ask for it now,” Dr. Basel said.

While COVID cases aren’t as high as other peaks, doctors say with the new omicron variants, we can’t let our guard down as we head into fall.

“Our kids start getting back to school we start gathering more at events and things like that we certainly could start seeing more from a case standpoint,” Dr. Wilde said.

As far as getting another booster shot, you might want to wait for a couple of months.

“Because it sounds like the FDA may try to make the booster more specific with the variants we are seeing,” Dr. Wilde said.

As far as hospitalizations, both doctors say they’re in good shape.

“Compared to where we were the last couple of years I’m really pretty pleased we’ve had one patient on a ventilator in the last two months across our hospitals compared to where we were last spring, it’s outstanding,” Dr. Basel said.

Patients are expected to bring their recent health records and a list of their current medications, so pharmacists can check that Paxlovid won’t negatively interact with other drugs.