4 ways to get your Covid-19 test done while preparing for an overseas holiday
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By Natalie B Compton
Washington - If you are planning on getting a coronavirus test ahead of your holiday travels this year, it may be trickier than you would expect.
Experts predict the demand for coronavirus tests is set to spike, leaving people who may need them for travel documentation or medical reasons scrambling.
Here are some tips for navigating the testing shortage before the last minute.
Book an in-person test in advance
Depending on where you live, in-person testing may be available at airports, pharmacies, hospitals, among other establishments.
Your local health department website should have information on finding testing sites, or you can ask your primary-care provider for tips.
How much you pay for your in-person test will depend on the type of test you get - PCR tends to be more expensive - when you get it, where you get it and why.
Before you lock in an appointment for a test at the airport, make sure you exhaust the other options.
Buy a self-test before you need one
If you're testing for peace of mind or want to keep one in your suitcase, having a self-test is one of the easiest options.
"Covid tests have become the new toilet paper . . . people are hoarding them as they're able to," said Leo Friedman, the chief executive of iPromo, a supplier of coronavirus tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) that specializes in bulk orders.
"That doesn't mean you won't get [a test]," Friedman said. "You just have to plan ahead . . . unless you're willing to pay an arm and a leg."
At-home PCR test options are also available, but they need to be sent to a lab for companies (turnaround can still be quick).
Don't rush to get tested if it's not required
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as long as you are not showing symptoms, you don't need to get tested if you're fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past three months.
Vaccinated travellers should also test five to seven days after coming into contact with someone with Covid-19.
Unvaccinated people should test one to three days before travel and within three to five days of their return.
If they have been exposed to someone with Covid-19, they should test immediately. In that case, even if the result is negative, they should test again in five to seven days or as soon as they develop any symptoms.
Depending on the destination, you may need a test to travel regardless of vaccination status.
It's okay to get tested to see a high-risk loved one
Daniel Rhoads, section head of microbiology at the Cleveland Clinic, leads coronavirus testing for the academic medical centre. He said some travellers may want to get tested so they feel responsible around high-risk loved ones.
"I can imagine the desire to have some level of caution to try to prevent bringing Covid to a loved one who's high-risk," Rhoads said. "That seems reasonable to me and would provide some people peace of mind."
Rhoads wanted to remind travellers that while testing isn't foolproof, it can add another layer of protection to try to prevent the spread of the virus.