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Plan Ahead for COVID-19 Testing

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People seeking COVID-19 PCR testing with Samaritan for reasons such as travel this holiday season are advised to plan ahead, as test results can take two or three days.

Of the two major kinds of COVID-19 tests available, PCR tests are generally more accurate, but take longer than the rapid antigen tests, which can give results in less than 15 minutes.

“Though a PCR test may be required in some settings, for many people this holiday season who want to make sure they are not infectious a rapid antigen test that you can pick up at the pharmacy would be a good option,” said Infectious Disease Physician Adam Brady, MD. “Meanwhile, being vaccinated is the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe from coronavirus.”

If you are wondering if you should get tested before a holiday event, but are not required to do so, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide guidance here.

The CDC offers the following advice on ways to minimize risk while enjoying the holidays with family and friends:

Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated.
Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated.
Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission.
Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering.
Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have a close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated and have received an additional dose. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households and potentially from different parts of the country, you could consider additional precautions (e.g., avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel, taking a test) in advance of gathering to further reduce risk.
Do NOT put a mask on children younger than 2 years old. 

“The hope is that people will be able to enjoy the holidays with family this year, while also taking care to limit the spread of COVID-19,” said. Dr. Brady. “This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that we have the coronavirus vaccines, which will make gathering together during the holidays safer.”

For information about COVID-19 vaccines and opportunities to schedule your vaccination, visit samhealth.org/GetTheVaccine,  or call 1-855-441-2311 if you do not have access to the internet.

For information about getting tested, visit samhealth.org/COVID19Test or call 1-844-469-2427.