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Covid Tests for Kids: Tips for Parents from Urgent Care for Children

Covid Tests for Kids: Tips for Parents from Urgent Care for Children

  • How to schedule a Covid test at UCC Huntsville & Madison
  • Tips for parents on quarantining & managing kids' fears & anxiety
father and son in a doctors office getting a covid test

With kids back in school and many of them not yet able to be vaccinated, pediatric Covid cases are popping up all over Alabama. And while children have been less affected by COVID-19 compared to adults, they can and are becoming infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, with some developing severe illness and effects that linger. Many students in the Huntsville area are experiencing exposure at school, which leads to a growing need for pediatric Covid tests across North Alabama.

Urgent Care for Children has two local locations – on Carl T. Jones Drive in Huntsville, and on Highway 72 in Madison. Parents that need a fast COVID test for their children will be able to get them here, with a variety of options:

  • Rapid antigen test (results in 15-45 minutes)
  • PCR test (results in 3-5 days)
  • Antibody testing (results in 15-45 minutes)

Urgent Care for Children’s Kids Covid Testing Tips

Getting tested can cause a lot of fear and anxiety in some children – it’s a scary topic that has been in the news nonstop for well over a year. Kids might have heard horror stories about getting “brain swabbed” or worry about the process being painful.

We spoke to Erin Percy, CRNP and Clinical Director at Urgent Care for Children in Madison about how parents can help their child in the event they need a COVID-19 test.

Helping Children through a COVID-19 test

Gentle Swabbing vs Brain Swabbing
In the earlier days of Covid, getting tested was often referred to as “brain swabbing” since the swab went so far into the nasal cavity. But Urgent Care for Children takes the gentle swabbing approach.

“We do gentle swabbing at the base of the nose, usually two swabs per test.” Kids that have visited Urgent Care for Children for a Covid test are often surprised about how easy and painless it is. “Most kids say it doesn’t hurt – it kind of tickles – and last less than a few seconds.”

If a rapid test is negative, we recommend also sending off the PCR test just to be sure. If you do not have symptoms or if you are past day five of exposure, a PCR is the way to go.” Percy also says the Delta strain of Covid-19 is rarely presenting as asymptomatic.

Reducing the Fear of the Unknown

Preparation is key to helping kids overcome anxiety about getting a Covid test. Percy had some great advice for parents and caregivers managing their child’s apprehensions:

  • Let your child know they are getting tested in advance; don’t keep them in the dark.
  • Reassure kids that the test itself only takes a few seconds.
  • Practice with a Q-tip at home before you go. They are larger than the actual swabs!
  • If you are also getting tested, go first to show how easy it is.
  • We’re not above bribery – Urgent Care for Children has popsicles, lollipops, juice, stickers – whatever it takes!

If you have an infant that has been exposed and is having symptoms, the testing process is the same. “So far, our youngest Covid testing patient was 6 weeks old,” Percy said.

Scheduling a Covid Test at Urgent Care for Children

Once you’ve been informed of a Covid exposure at school or your child starts to have Covid symptoms, it’s time to make arrangements to get tested. You can schedule your visit HERE to Urgent Care for Children in Huntsville or Madison, as well as get details about the process. Parents should note most Urgent Care lobbies are closed and patients will be waiting in their car. Lately, wait times have been high at all testing locations in North Alabama, so it’s best to be prepared.

“I’m telling families to bring a fully charged phone and make sure there’s gas in the tank. Bring things to do while you wait in your car. And do not go to the ER for a test unless you have very serious symptoms. The Emergency Rooms at local hospitals are not testing kids that have mild to moderate symptoms or those that are not in respiratory distress.” In other words, please don’t go to the ER unless you think you or your child should be admitted.

For children with autism or sensory issues, Urgent Care for Children is proud to be the nation’s first sensory inclusive pediatric urgent care facility. All Urgent Care for Children clinics have sensory accommodations for patients who respond well to a quieter, more secure environment. Urgent Care for Children’s team of pediatricians, nurse practitioners and medical professionals have been trained to respond to pediatric patients with sensory needs and adapt their approach to treatment accordingly.

My Child Got a Covid Test. Now What?

Many families are concerned about returning to activities or visiting family members after they have children tested. Percy says most have questions about how to proceed next.

“We recommend a 10-14 day isolation from onset of symptoms or a positive test. After that time, most otherwise healthy kids can return to school, activities, or visit family. It’s important to note students cannot “test out” of quarantine from school – the 14 day quarantine is mandatory for most local school systems, even if you get a negative test. You can still test positive up to 90 days after having Covid, even if you have recovered from symptoms.”

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View Comments (2)
  • My favorite part of this article is the importance of having a treatment to be safe for any problems. My wife is looking to find an urgent care clinic after moving to our present neighborhood because she had difficulty getting to the hospital and asked if I knew what the best option was. Because of this educational article, I’ll be sure to tell her that we can consult a well-known urgent care clinic, which can answer all of our questions.

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