Children and COVID-19 testing: Test site age requirements and advice for seeking a test

Posted at 4:19 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 17:40:13-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Parents looking to test their kids for COVID-19 will want to check requirements before they head to a test site. But some pediatricians don’t suggest children get a test if they have no symptoms.

Laura Fafrak’s 16-year-old son needed a test in order to get a procedure, and they thought CVS would be a good option.

“It turns out that you have to be 18 or older for testing at CVS,” said Fafrak.

She says one clinic took two weeks to get an appointment, only to find they did not have rapid testing and a regular swab would take up to 14 days. That left her thinking about school re-openings around the corner. Fafrak says she'd like to see rapid testing more available and accessible.

“My son’s school has around 2,300 students, and once they’ve been exposed and we have all these kids that are sick, where are we going to be able to get them tested?” said Fafrak.

Dr. Joseph Perno, the Chief Medical Officer at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, doesn’t recommend asymptomatic testing for kids, rather if they’ve been exposed, he says they should quarantine for up to 14 days or if symptoms develop.

“Even if you’ve been exposed and test negative, you could test positive any time up to 14 days after that exposure,” said Dr. Perno. “A one-time test will tell you you’re negative on Monday, but it doesn’t mean you won’t convert tomorrow.”

If a child does show symptoms, Dr. Perno says it could be challenging depending if test sites have age cut offs.

“We'll find that most pediatricians don’t have testing at their offices, it’s just not feasible at this time,” said Dr. Perno. “I would recommend that families can follow up with their pediatrician either via phone or via visit to see if they need the testing at all as a first step.”

Hillsborough County sites do not have an age limit for people looking to get tested, but children must have a parent or guardian with them.

Pinellas County officials explained there’s no age requirement at Tropicana Field or the Mahaffey Theater parking lot locations, though a child under 18 needs a parent or guardian with them. Pinellas County reminded to be tested at Tropicana Field, you need to have symptoms associated with COVID-19, but you do not need symptoms to be tested at the Mahaffey site.

BayCare told us it tests patients of all ages at their drive-thru sites, but children need a parent or guardian with them. At the state-supported Raymond James testing site, all ages are welcome regardless of symptoms, but a minor needs to be with a parent because they will sign a consent form at the site. The Raymond James site is by appointment only.

If you go to a CVS for testing, CVS states “only patients who have qualified and scheduled a visit online can be tested. Patients must be at least 18.”

If your child is getting a test, doctors recommend explaining the procedure and setting their expectations.

“It’s going to be uncomfortable, it’s going to be relatively quick," said Dr. Perno. "I would stress that there are no needles, sometimes the thought of a needle is what will set children off.”