COVID Testing

COVID Testing

COVID testing shortages are occurring everywhere in our community due to high demand and limited supply. Please know that we are doing everything we can to provide the most convenient testing options for your child and will be transparent about what tests we have available each day. Be sure to schedule your child’s appointment at our Bellevue, Factoria, Redmond Ridge, or Sammamish clinics if they are experiencing symptoms of illness.

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It is easy to get confused about the different types of COVID tests: NAAT, PCR, and Rapid Antigen. See below for an overview of which test is best for your child’s situation. Please be aware that your child’s individual school or daycare may have specific guidelines that dictate when your child can return to their classroom.

Molecular NAAT:

  • Technology is similar to a PCR test
  • Timing: Results within 15 minutes
  • Pro: More sensitive so is accurate in diagnosing COVID in early stages of infection and with mild symptoms
  • Con: Can remain positive after a person is no longer contagious

When should it be used?

  • BEST USE | Symptomatic: NAAT can be used if your child has symptoms of COVID. 
  • GOOD USE | Exposure: NAAT can be used if your child has been exposed to COVID. It is best to test 5 days after exposure. Depending on your child’s vaccination status, history of past infection, and return to activity guidelines from their school or daycare, a negative test may not reduce their 10 days of quarantine.
  • NOT RECOMMENDED | Clearing from isolation after COVID infection: NAAT is so sensitive in detecting virus that it can remain positive for days to weeks after someone is no longer contagious to others.

PCR Test:

  • Timing: Results may take a few days because the sample must be sent to a lab for analysis
  • Pro:  More sensitive so is accurate in diagnosing COVID in early stages of infection and with mild symptoms
  • Con: Can remain positive after a person is no longer contagious

When should it be used?

  • BEST USE | Symptomatic: A PCR test can be used if your child has symptoms of COVID. The symptomatic child should continue to stay home and isolate from others until you know the result.
  • GOOD USE | Exposure: A PCR test can be used if your child has been exposed to COVID. It is best to test 5 days after exposure. Depending on your child’s vaccination status, history of past infection, and return to activity guidelines from their school or daycare, a negative test may not reduce their 10 days of quarantine.
  • NOT RECOMMENDED | Clearing from isolation after COVID infection: A PCR test is so sensitive in detecting virus that it can remain positive for days to weeks after someone is no longer contagious to others.

Rapid Antigen Test:

  • May also be referred to as an at home test, rapid test, or over-the-counter test
  • Less sensitive than PCR or NAAT tests at detecting COVID virus
  • Timing: Results within 15-30 minutes
  • Pro: Most accurate at measuring if someone is contagious to others
  • Con: Less accurate at detecting the virus in the first few days of a COVID infection

When should it be used? 

  • BEST USE | Clearing from isolation after COVID infection: Current guidelines allow everyone to return to activity 10 days after symptoms start (or the date of the positive test if no symptoms). A negative rapid antigen test can determine if your child is no longer infectious and (depending on your school/daycare/sports return policy) may allow them to return between day 5-10 if they had mild symptoms that have improved.
  • LIMITED USE | Exposure: An antigen test can be used if your child has been exposed to COVID but is not as accurate as a PCR or NAAT test. It is best to test 5 days after exposure. 
  • LIMITED USE | Symptomatic: An antigen test can be used if your child has symptoms of COVID. A positive result means your child is infected and does not require confirmation with a PCR or NAAT test. If a rapid antigen test is negative, it is best to get a PCR or NAAT test to confirm or to retest in 1-2 days, as antigen tests have a higher rate of a false negative result.

COVID Resources

The providers and staff at Allegro Pediatrics understand that the COVID pandemic often feels overwhelming and difficult to navigate. We are here to support you and provide trusted resources to help address your family’s concerns. Please visit the COVID Resources tabs below for information on your specific topic of concern or visit our COVID Vaccine FAQs blog. We encourage you to schedule a Virtual Visit if you have a particular situation in your family that you would like to discuss with your primary care pediatrician.