Self-tests to COVID-19 provide quick results and can easily be taken wherever, regardless if you are vaccinated or have symptoms.
These tests detect current infections and are also known as “home tests”, “at-home testing” or “over the counter (OTC) tests.”
These tests return your result in just a few minutes, unlike laboratory-based tests which can take several days.
Self-tests, vaccination and wearing a well-fitted, protective mask will help protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Self-tests don’t detect antibodies that would indicate a previous infection. They also do not measure your immunity level.
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How to Take an At-Home COVID-19 Testing
Try It If You…
Any COVID-19 symptoms
You were exposed to COVID-19-infected individuals
Minimum 5 days after you have been exposed
Consider testing again 1 to 2 business days after you have taken your first test for COVID-19.
You’re going to an indoor event, or a gathering
As close as possible to the event, but not more than a few minutes before.
This is particularly important before you meet with people at high risk for severe diseases, elderly, immunocompromised or those who have not been vaccinated.
Double-right chevron icon What to do if your test is positive, or tests are negative?
How to get an At-Home COVID-19 test
Order free tests at COVIDtests.govexternal icon. Local Health Departments also offer free tests.
Purchase tests online, in pharmacies, and at retail stores. Private insurance might reimburse you for self-tests. For a complete list of approved tests, visit FDA’s Websiteexternal icon
If you are unable to get a self-test at the time you need it , you may visit a local testing site or call your local hospital for additional options.
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How to use an At-Home COVID-19 test
Before using the test, please read the entire manufacturer’s instructions.
- You will need to collect a sample from your nose and test it for an at-home test.
- Your test results may not be as expected if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Before and after collecting a sample for your nasal test, wash your hands.
Play circle light icon Watch video: Self-testing [00:01.32]
Want More Information? Search videos for manufacturer instructions to help you with your self-test.
What your Test Results Mean
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If YOUR TEST IS
The virus was detected by the test and it is confirmed.
Stay at home for at most 5 days, and isolate yourself from all other people in your home.
Tell your closest contacts.
When you are around others, wear a well-fitted and comfortable mask. A N95 or KN95 respirator are recommended if available.
symptoms should be monitored. You should seek emergency medical attention immediately if you experience any warning signs.
Inform your healthcare provider. If:
Your symptoms get worse.
If you are an older adult, or have an underlying condition, you are more likely to become very ill. You may have a treatment.
There are questions regarding your isolation.
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If YOUR TEST IS
Although the test failed to detect the virus , it doesn’t rule out an infection.
Some self-tests can be used in series (also called serial testing). You might want to repeat the test 24-48 hours later. Multiple negative results increase the likelihood that you aren’t infected by the virus that causes COVID-19.
Contact the test manufacturer if you believe your test result is incorrect. You can also take another test at home or seek help from a healthcare provider if necessary.
This post was written by a medical professional at The Wellness Firm. The Wellness Firm services include workplace flu clinics, wholesale rapid antigen tests, onsite event Covid testing, physical exams for employment, as well as American Heart Association CPR certification classes. Founded by local Firemen, The Wellness Firm has been providing a safer Tampa Bay since 2006.