What to Expect

What to Expect

The Vermont Department of Health has partnered with CIC Health to offer COVID-19 testing at many sites in Vermont. These sites now allow Vermonters to take their own samples using a short swab in your nose. Watch this video to learn how easy it is to do!

Frequently asked questions about Health Department testing

Who can get tested?
People in Vermont who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested for the virus at a Health Department testing site. This includes people who work in Vermont, visitors to Vermont and international travelers.

How do I register for testing?
Register online (link is external).

Do I need a referral from a doctor?
No, you do not need a referral from a doctor to be tested at a Health Department testing site.

Can children be tested?
Yes, children 12 months or older can be tested at a Health Department testing site. Infants under 12 months can get tested at their health care provider's office. Anyone under 18 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian OR bring a signed parental consent form.

Will I be screened for symptoms?
Yes, you will be screened for symptoms at the test site.

Will the test tell me if I have already had COVID-19?
No, the test will tell you if you have a current infection. It is not a serology/antibody test, which means it will not tell you if you were infected in the past. 

Do I need insurance?
You do not have to have health insurance in order to be tested, though you will be asked about insurance when you register for testing.

Is there a cost to the test?
No, there is no cost to be tested at a Health Department testing site.

Can I get transportation to the test site?
Yes. Schedule your appointment, and then at least two days before the appointment call 833-387-7200. 

The event is full - will you have more Health Department testing in my area?
We offer daily testing within a 30-minute drive of most Vermont communities.Please check for another date and location. We continue to gauge the need for additional Health Department testing and will schedule accordingly.

How can I change or cancel my appointment?
The confirmation email that was sent to you has information about how to cancel or change your appointment. 

Do I get out of my car for the testing? 
Some sites allow you to drive through, but most will require you to get out of your car to enter the space where the specimen will be collected. You will get instructions to follow when you arrive at the site. You may have to wait outside, so dress for the weather.

Do I need to identification with me?
We don’t require identification. We will ask you to verify contact information.

Can I get an ASL interpreter to assist at me at the testing site?
Yes, an ASL interpreter can be arranged at Health Department testing events. Usually, the interpreter will work with you remotely, and you'll use a computer screen available at the test site. To request an interpreter, ask one of the public health workers at the test site.

Can I get an interpreter for a foreign language to assist at me at the testing site?
Yes, an interpreter can be arranged at Health Department testing events. Usually, the interpreter will work with you remotely, by phone. To request an interpreter, ask one of the public health workers at the test site. There are some testing events where foreign lanuage intepreters are available onsite.

What is the procedure like?
Health Department testing sites use nasal swabs. This is a self-administered test, which means that you use a short, dry swab to collect a sample from the front of your nose.

How will I get my results?

  • If you requested an electronic result, you can expect an email within 3 business days, when your result is ready.  You can then log in to your COVID-19 testing account to get the result. You will not receive a letter.
  • If you requested a letter, you can expect to receive it within 7 business days. If you also provided an email address, you can expect an email within 3 business days, when your result is ready.  You can then log in to your COVID-19 testing account to get the result.
  • If you do not have a COVID-19 testing account (you attended the testing event as a walk-in) a patient ID was created for you and sent to the email you provided. You will need to use the link in the email to confirm your patient ID.  Once you confirm the patient ID, you can log in to your COVID-19 testing account and view your test results once they are available.

When will I get the results?

  • If you requested an electronic result, you can expect an email within 3 business days, when your result is ready.  You can then log in to your COVID-19 testing account to get the result.
  • If you requested a letter, you can expect to receive it within 7 business days. If you also provided an email address, you can expect an email within 3 business days, when your result is ready.  You can then log in to your COVID-19 testing account to get the result.

We cannot guarantee that you will receive your results in less than 3 business days. We also cannot accommodate special requests for receiving test results.

If you have a positive result, our contact tracing team will talk to you about public health recommendations and ask questions about people you were in contact with. It is possible that the Health Department may contact you before your health care provider does.

What should I do while I wait for my results?
Read about what to do while you’re waiting for your test results.

Can I be tested at a Health Department testing site more than once?
Yes, if you have reason to be concerned about infection, you may come to a Health Department testing site more than once.

Getting your test results

Test results are typically available within 3 business days. Business days are Monday through Friday. Holiday are not business days. How you receive results depends on where you were tested.

If you were tested at a Health Department testing site,

  • If you requested an electronic result, you can expect an email within 3 business days, when your result is ready.  You can then log in to your COVID-19 testing account to get the result. You will not receive a letter.
  • If you requested a letter, you can expect to receive it within 7 business days. If you also provided an email address, you can expect an email within 3 business days, when your result is ready.  You can then log in to your COVID-19 testing account to get the result.
  • If you do not have a COVID-19 testing account (you attended the testing event as a walk-in) a patient ID was created for you and sent to the email you provided.  You will need to use the link in the email to confirm your patient ID.  Once you confirm the patient ID, you can log in to your COVID-19 testing account and view your test results once they are available.

If you have a positive result, our contact tracing team will talk to you about public health recommendations and ask questions about people you were in contact with. It is possible that the Health Department may contact you before your health care provider does.

We cannot guarantee that you will receive your results in less than 3 business days. We also cannot accommodate special requests for receiving test results or rushed results.

If you got tested anywhere else, the Health Department cannot provide your results. Please contact your health care provider, if they ordered the test or the facility that conducted the test.

If you received a positive result, the Health Department will also reach out to talk to you about public health recommendations and ask questions about people you were in contact with. It is possible that the Health Department may contact you before your health care provider does.

If you receive a test result that is “inconclusive” or “indeterminate,” the Health Department encourages you to get retested. You are also encouraged to stay home away from others while you’re waiting for your result.

The Health Department only uses PCR tests.

Types of tests

PCR Test

A PCR test is the most common type of COVID-19 test used today. Sometimes it is called an RT-PCR test. PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction. The test identifies people who are currently infected with the COVID-19 virus. A negative PCR test can be used to shorten a 14-day quarantine

PCR tests are generally the most reliable tests. Samples are analyzed at a lab, which usually takes up to a few days. A PCR test is used at testing sites offered by the Health Department.

None of the vaccines currently available will cause you to test positive on a PCR test.

Data on COVID-19 activity reported on healthvermont.gov includes only PCR tests.

Antigen Test

An antigen test for COVID-19 identifies people who are currently infected with the COVID-19 virus. However, a negative antigen test cannot be used to shorten a 14-day quarantine. None of the vaccines currently available will cause you to test positive on an antigen test.

Antigen tests provide results much more quickly than PCR tests. They are sometimes referred to as a rapid or fast test. Antigen tests are usually less sensitive than PCR tests, so they might miss some cases. Antigen tests could be more useful in certain circumstances:

  • For people who have symptoms of COVID-19. So far, studies on antigen tests have only been done on people with symptoms, and we do not have evidence about the accuracy of the antigen test on people without symptoms.
     
  • Health care providers may use antigen testing when PCR testing is not available or when results are needed quickly. This may be when people who are having symptoms get tested at their doctor’s office or when patients are being admitted to hospitals that don’t have a lot of PCR tests available.
     
  • Antigen tests may be used to screen people to identify those who need a more definitive test. Antigen tests are particularly helpful when used to test people in the early stages of infection (within the first 5 to 7 days of having COVID-19 symptoms) when the viral load is generally the highest. For example, long-term care facilities could screen residents and staff who are not having symptoms, but only if the tests were done at least weekly.
  • For surveillance purposes, to see what COVID-19 activity might be occurring in a community.

When used appropriately to test people with COVID-19 symptoms, antigen tests have a higher chance of missing an active infection than a PCR test. This means that if you have symptoms, you may receive a negative result but still be infected with COVID-19. A negative test generally requires confirmation with a PCR test.

Serology/Antibody Test

Serologic, or antibody, tests identify people who have previously been infected with the coronavirus and do not show whether a person is currently infected.

If someone was infected with COVID-19, there will be antibodies in their blood, whether the person ever felt sick or not. The testing measures the body’s immune response to the virus. It does not detect the virus itself.

With any test, there is always a risk of incorrect test results – false-positive and false-negative results. We need a good and accurate test we can rely on. The Vermont Department of Health convened a working group of experts to research antibody tests. Their findings conclude that at this time, the serologic (antibody) tests that are currently available would not produce results that are accurate or reliable enough for Vermont. The working group will continue to meet regularly and will be watching closely for changes and improvements in serologic testing. Recommendations may change based on new data.

Though certain providers may offer antibody testing in Vermont, the working group cautions against using serologic testing to make decisions about individuals. For example, the test should not be used to establish “proof of immunity.” However, this type of test could help us better understand the population-level rate of infection from COVID-19 in Vermont.

The CDC is working with commercial laboratories to estimate the percentage of people (link is external) who were infected with the COVID-19 virus. The strategy involves working with state, local, territorial, academic, and commercial partners to better understand COVID-19 in the United States using serology testing for surveillance.

Get more information about the COVID-19 tests that are currently available from the Food and Drug Administration (link is external)