Doctors weigh in on at-home COVID-19 tests and what you need to know

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 9:52 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -President Biden has unveiled his COVID winter plan.

The testing piece focuses on making at-home COVID tests more widely available and for free. The framework would be getting insurance to reimburse people for the test kits.

And for those who aren’t insured, they plan to make more of the kits available at community health centers and clinics.

Sure... those boxed up testing kits you can take without ever leaving the comfort of your own home is convenient. But we wanted to check in with doctors to find out when they advise you use them.

“I sort of compared them to things like home pregnancy test or things like that,” explained family physician Dr. Laura Miller. “They are part of the tools, our toolbox for COVID. If properly done and properly administered, meaning somebody has to follow the directions, and time it correctly, they certainly do play a role.”

Chief Medical Officer at Central Mississippi Health Service Dr. Lionel Fraser echoed that.

“Making those tests more readily available will help,” said Dr. Fraser. “But you have to couple education with it. People have to know what to do with their findings, people have to know what to do if they’re ill while they’re in. That’s what prompted them to test, they need to know to isolate and be serious about it.”

But the at-home tests also aren’t as sensitive as the PCR tests you’d have done through a lab. So, it may not catch the virus, especially if it’s early in the illness.

“I think it’s very important for people to know that even if their test is negative, if they feel sick, and they have COVID-like symptoms, please do not ignore that talk to your doctor. Get in and be seen,” explained Mississippi State Medical Association President Dr. Geri Weiland.

With the holidays coming up, it’s potentially an added piece of mind but don’t forget the prevention step.

“I will just say that the most important thing you can do is get vaccinated,” said Dr. Michael Threlkeld, Baptist Memorial Health Center Infectious Disease Specialist. “Being testing and getting a home test kits... some people I’ve heard say, ‘Oh, well, I don’t need to get vaccinated. I’ll just get tested frequently.’ That doesn’t cover it, you need to be vaccinated. And that’s the single most important thing that we can all do to help protect ourselves in the upcoming season.”

The President’s plan is also aimed at upping the number of folks vaccinated... and boosted.

One part of it calls for family vaccination days at community health centers. Central Mississippi Health Services says the challenge is still finding ways to convince those who haven’t received any doses yet.

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