The options and procedures for obtaining COVID-19 testing for your child can seem confusing at first, but testing guidelines are relatively simple and uniform for all age groups. Keep reading to learn more about Covid testing for kids!
When To Get Tested?
COVID-19 testing is often required in order to get the “all-clear” for previously symptomatic children to go back to school. It is also commonly required for travel, to attend large events, and in the case of potential COVID-19 exposure.
Vaccination status does not matter when determining whether or not your child should receive a COVID-19 test. Children should undergo COVID-19 testing if they have COVID-19 symptoms or have had a possible exposure to another individual who has tested positive.
Testing should take place as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms or within a few days of positive COVID-19 exposure.
Where To Get Tested?
Most urgent care, clinics, pharmacies, and pediatric offices should have a stock of COVID-19 tests on hand. You will likely need to call ahead or register online in order to secure a spot for testing and follow the instructions of the medical office. Many COVID-19 testing centers are by appointment only, while others do accept walk-ins. Some facilities require that patients stay in their parked vehicles and wait to be assisted or go through a drive-through testing service.
In most cases, testing should be covered by your child’s medical insurance and may even be provided to patients free of charge. At-home testing kits are another alternative option as well.
Types of COVID-19 Tests
There are a few different kinds of basic COVID-19 tests that test for active infection. They are performed by swabbing your child’s oral or nasal secretions.
The most commonly used (and most accurate) form of COVID-19 testing is known as the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. Results are usually available within 1-2 business days.
The rapid test, also called an antigen test, is another option that typically returns results within 15 minutes or less. At-home test kits are a form of rapid testing. Rapid testing is considered to be less accurate than a PCR test.
Lastly, a blood test may be performed to check for COVID-19 antibodies after a suspected COVID-19 infection and recovery. These tests are typically performed at least 2-3 weeks after the active infection period has passed but are not usually necessary. Talk to your child’s doctor if you have an antibody testing request.
After The Test Results
Official COVID-19 diagnosis is made by a pediatrician or other healthcare professional by looking at a combination of symptoms and a positive COVID-19 test result.
With ever-changing CDC guidelines, it can be confusing to know how long your child should quarantine, especially if they have contradictory test results. For example, a patient with an active COVID-19 infection may receive a false negative on a rapid test yet test positive with a PCR test.
Some children may continue to test positive long after recovery from their COVID-19 infection and symptoms. A positive test does not necessarily mean that a patient is still contagious or in the midst of an active infection. In this case, follow current CDC guidelines as to when your child’s quarantine should be ended. When in doubt, encourage social distancing and mask-wearing until your child is able to test negative.
If you suspect your child may have an active COVID-19 infection, or you want to discuss options for COVID-19 testing for kids, give us a call today.