Does My Kid Need A COVID Test (And if so, what kind?)
One of our most common phone calls at night and over the weekend is: DOES MY KID NEED A COVID TEST? Usually, the call is triggered by a fever, cold symptoms, diarrhea, vomiting, or a COVID exposure. Although the answer can seem complicated, unfortunately, the answer, almost always, is yes. It’s one of those things that if you think about it, you probably need it. Until children are vaccinated ( no promises the testing will stop with vaccinations!) we, as a community, have to remain vigilant about testing.
Every school has its own specific set of rules, but here are the basics. The following scenarios warrant a COVID test:
- Your child (vaccinated or unvaccinated) has new symptoms of cough, congestion, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, loss of taste or smell, headache, or fatigue.
- Your unvaccinated child was exposed to someone with COVID or suspected COVID. The initial test should be done ASAP, and if negative, repeated five days later. Your child will have to quarantine for at least seven days from the last exposure depending on the results of the tests and the rules of your school.
- Your vaccinated child was exposed to someone with COVID-19– they should be tested 3-5 days after the exposure. Until they have a negative test they should be wearing masks in public.
At MVP we offer two kinds of COVID tests. We have the Rapid Antigen test and the PCR test. The rapid antigen test is best used on symptomatic individuals. It is rare to have a false positive test when someone has overt symptoms of COVID-19. The rapid test is not a good screening test for school or travel, although some schools will accept them. The PCR test is the gold standard test for COVID testing and is very accurate whether or not you are symptomatic. At MVP our results come back within about 24 hours of the test. Generally, we recommend a PCR test for most accurate testing, but often also use a rapid test when someone has symptoms suspicious for COVID-19.
Please note that if your child has had COVID in the past three months it is likely that their test will remain positive beyond the period that they are contagious. So this is one scenario in that we do not recommend COVID testing.
This link from the CDC is a quick and easy way to figure out if your child needs a COVID test. If you have determined that you need to bring your child in for testing please either schedule a test on our website or call the office to schedule an appointment.