Children & COVID Tests: What to Know and How to Prepare

child covid test

Are you concerned your child has COVID? The Doctors share how to know if you should consider getting your little one tested for the virus and how to prepare them.

The New York Times notes the 4 top reasons a child might need to be tested for the coronavirus, which includes:

  • The child is having COVID symptoms -- learn about all the possible symptoms and signs of the virus 
  • The child has been exposed to an individual who is infected with COVID
  • They are required to be tested, possibly for school, daycare, a day camp, or a hospital visit
  • A precaution for traveling -- this should be done 1 to 3 days before the trip, then again 3 to 5 days after the trip

The type of COVID test a child might take falls into 2 categories: a molecular PCR test (a more sensitive test that looks for virus genetic material and can take days for results) or antigen test (which detects fragments of proteins found on the virus and these results can be given in as little as 15 minutes, but are less sensitive than a molecular test). Knowing which test to take depends on what is available in your area or which one is required for your particular situation -- some situations require a PCR test.

How the test is performed can vary and may include:

  • A nasopharyngeal swab - the long swab which is inserted into the nose
  • A shorter swab inserted about an inch into the nostrils
  • A swab of the tonsils
  • A swab of the gums and inner cheeks
  • A saliva test

The experts stress that parents should be honest and straightforward about the test and what it might involve and to tell your child it might be a bit uncomfortable but reassure them it will be over quickly.

Also consider watching this helpful video, created by Children’s Hospital Colorado, that shares what a child should expect during a COVID test. Plus, find out how you can buy a COVID test online and take it at home.

Still unsure if your child needs a COVID test? The CDC has created The Coronavirus Self-Checker, an interactive clinical assessment tool that can help.

More: New COVID-19 Testing Requirements for All Air Travel to the US

More: Previous COVID-19 Infection Provides Immunity for Just Months New Study Finds

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