Q&A: When should an antigen test be taken? 

Q&A: When should an antigen test be taken? 

What is an antigen test?

An antigen test is a quick test for Covid-19 that can be done at home, giving a result in 15 minutes. 

It differs from the PCR as an antigen is less reliable; the PCR test looks at the genetic material of the virus and is done in a lab.

When and where are antigen tests being used?

Close contacts of a Covid case who are fully vaccinated and showing no symptoms will be given antigen tests to use. 

They are also being used in hospitals, colleges, universities, and in creche and childcare services.

I am a close contact. What now?

If you are a close contact, a contact tracer will be in touch with you.

If you have symptoms, you will be asked to self-isolate by staying in your room and get a PCR test.

If you have no symptoms and are fully vaccinated, you don’t need to restrict your movements but you will need to do an antigen test, which you will be offered for free. 

You will get a text message with a link to a website where you can provide your details. 

When you have done that, you will get a text message with information about your antigen tests. 

You should get your antigen tests through An Post in one or two business days.

What happens when I get my antigen test?

You should receive a pack of five tests. You are asked to take three, while two are spares in case of an inconclusive result. The HSE has said people should do three tests in this order:

  • First test on the day you get your tests;
  • Second test two days after your first test;
  • Third test two days after your second test.

If a test is inconclusive, a spare test should be used. If you are having ongoing difficulties securing a conclusive result on your HSE-issued antigen tests, you should contact HSELive for advice.

How do you use an antigen test?

Open the kit and put the tube with the solution in the test kit hole. Take the swab from its packaging.

Carefully insert the absorbent end of the swab into your left nostril about 2cm and roll it around the inner edges five or six times. Repeat on the right nostril.

Take the absorbent end of the swab and dip it into the solution

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