What to Expect

What to Expect

Frequently asked questions about pop-up testing

Who can get tested?
People in Vermont who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested for the virus at a pop-up testing site. This includes people who work in Vermont. We encourage people who are in quarantine who want a test to contact their health care provider, though they may also come to a pop-up testing site.

How do I register for pop-up 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 pop-up testing site.

Can children be tested?
Yes, children 12 months or older can be tested at a pop-up testing site. 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 pop-up 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 pop-up testing in my area?
We continue to gauge the need and the value for pop-up testing and will schedule accordingly. You can sign up with this form (link is external) to be contacted via email if there are more pop-up testing dates scheduled in your area. 

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.

What is the procedure like?
The specimen is collected using a nasal swab. This is a short, dry swab used to collect a sample from the front of your nose. 

When will I get the results?

  • If you asked to receive your results by email, you will receive an email when your test results are ready, within 3 business days. The email will prompt you to log in and get your results online where you may also print your results letter.
  • If you asked to receive your results by mail, you will get a letter within 7 days of being tested. 
  • 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.

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 pop-up testing site more than once?
Yes, if you have reason to be concerned about infection, you may come to a pop-up testing site more than once. However, we do not recommend routine, repeated testing just to make sure you're okay before visiting another household, attending a gathering, or just for peace of mind. 

Getting your test results

How you receive results depends on where you were tested.

If you were tested at a Health Department pop-up testing site,

  • if you asked to receive your results by email, you will receive an email when your test results are ready, within 3 business days. The email will prompt you to log in and get your results online where you may also print your results letter.
  • if you asked to receive your results by mail, you will get a letter within 7 days of being tested. 
  • 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.

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.

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. PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction. The test identifies people who are currently infected with the COVID-19 virus.

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 pop-up testing sites offered by the Health Department.

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.

Antigen tests provide results much more quickly than PCR tests. They are sometimes referred to as a rapid or fast test.

Though antigen tests may be available in Vermont, the Health Department only recommends antigen testing 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.

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)