SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – Patients in Johnston County are now receiving monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19.

It’s an option for those who are sick with the virus and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is assisting with five new clinics in North Carolina where people can get the treatment.

The first patients showed up at the Johnston County health department Wednesday morning and are going through a hour-long treatment process.

Lauren Drapiza, a physician assistant guiding people through the process, said the health department is getting a lot of phone calls about the treatment.

“We’ve had quite a few (treatments) scheduled today, so I think as it starts, I think it’ll be picking up pretty quickly,” Drapiza said.

The Johnston County health department said the treatment may be a good option for people over the age of 65 or people 12 years of age and older with preexisting conditions that put them at a higher risk, such as obesity or pregnancy.

We weren’t able to talk with any of the patients, but Drapiza said they are thankful for the treatment.

“They don’t feel great so they’re not 100-percent,” Drapiza said. “They say they’ve felt better, but they’re usually pretty happy to have the treatment option.”

The health department wants to remind people that this treatment is not a substitute for the vaccine, however.