When to Schedule a COVID-19 Test
The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic are behind us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still become infected — even if you’ve been infected previously. Although vaccination is essential for reducing your risk of serious illness, it doesn’t offer 100% protection, either.
That means it’s important to be tested for an infection to help keep yourself healthy and prevent spreading the virus to others. The question is: When is COVID-19 testing really needed?
As a leading provider of COVID-19 tests in Germantown, Maryland, and Alexandria and Woodbridge, Virginia, at Medical Access, our team offers several testing methods to help you stay healthy. If you aren’t sure if you need a COVID-19 test, here’s how to decide.
Get tested when you have symptoms
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it isn’t always easy to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19, especially in the early stages or when the infection is mild. In fact, it’s pretty easy to attribute mild symptoms to something like a mild cold, an allergy, or even just feeling worn down. To make sure you get tested at the right time, here’s a quick review of the most common COVID-19 symptoms to look for:
- Cough, especially a persistent cough
- Aching muscles
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- New loss of taste or smell
If you have any of these symptoms — even mild ones — it’s time to get tested. And if you have severe symptoms, like difficulty breathing, call 9-1-1 right away.
Get tested if you were exposed
If you know you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, getting tested is the best way to know for sure if you have an infection and if you’re at risk of passing it on to another person. The CDC recommends waiting for five days after exposure to avoid getting a false negative result for your test. During that time, it’s important to limit contact with other people, just in case you do have the virus.
Get tested if you’re in a high-risk setting
If you work, volunteer, or are undergoing training in certain settings, like a healthcare facility or police force, regular COVID-19 screening may be offered as part of a screening process. If it isn’t, it’s a good idea to be tested on your own — for your own sake and to avoid potentially spreading an infection that isn’t causing any symptoms.
Get tested before contact with a susceptible person
Some people are at high risk of developing severe or life-threatening COVID-19 symptoms. That includes people with underlying medical problems, like heart disease, lung problems, diabetes, or obesity.
If you know you’ll be in close contact with someone with these issues or with an infant or an elderly person, consider getting tested first to be sure you don’t unknowingly pass an infection that you don’t even know you have.
Don’t ignore your symptoms
Fall is when flu infections tend to soar, but other infections also become more common as colder weather forces more people indoors. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or if you simply don’t feel well, don’t ignore your symptoms or assume it isn’t COVID-19. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, you can still get infected — and you can still infect others, too.
To learn more about the COVID-19 test we offer or to schedule your test, book an appointment online or over the phone with Medical Access or walk in to our clinic. You can also book a test using the widget on this page.