Self-testing Before Holiday Gatherings
Healthcare providers should consider recommending that their patients perform COVID-19 self-tests (also referred to as home tests or over-the-counter tests), and encourage their guests to do the same, before indoor holiday gatherings.
Along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, self-tests help reduce the chance of spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Self-tests can also help protect unvaccinated children, older individuals, those who are immunocompromised, or individuals at risk of severe disease.
The key points below can help guide conversations with your patients about COVID-19 self-testing.
When to Consider Self-testing
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household, or if you live with someone at higher risk for severe COVID-19.
- Self-testing is one of many risk-reduction strategies—including getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and washing your hands—that protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Self-tests can be used whether you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and regardless if you are having symptoms of COVID-19.
Where to Get a Self-test
- COVID-19 self-tests are currently available over-the-counter in many locations, including pharmacies, some community health centers, and online.
- As self-tests become more widely available in all communities, more people will have access to self-testing.
How to Use and Interpret a Self-test
- Self-tests can be taken anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for performing the self-test.
- A positive self-test result means you have the virus. Follow CDC’s guidance on what to do if you are sick and isolate from others. Next, inform your healthcare provider, as well as any close contacts. If you must be in contact with others, wear a mask and practice physical distancing to reduce the risk of getting other people sick.
- A negative self-test result means that you may not have an infection. You should repeat the test at least 24 hours later to increase confidence that you are not infected.