If you have experienced exposure to COVID-19, you’re probably wondering “when should I get tested for COVID after exposure?” It is recommended you wait between five-seven days to receive the most accurate results. While you wait to get tested and receive your results, it can be normal to develop some fear and anxiety—especially if you become symptomatic. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help you understand when to get tested (or retested), what to do while you wait, when to get an antibody test, and how all of this is affected by receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Read this article to explore answers to these common questions and concerns.
If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should get tested when you develop symptoms, or five-seven days after exposure, whichever comes first. The CDC defines close contact as having been within six feet of someone for a total of at least 15 minutes, though the 15 minutes could be spread out over one or more hours.
While it can be tempting to go get tested immediately after finding out you’ve been exposed, it’s actually better to wait the five-seven days because you have a higher likelihood of receiving an accurate test result. This is because it takes between two to 14 days for the virus to set in—and for it to become detectable by most tests. So, if you get tested earlier than the recommended period, you are likely to receive inaccurate test results. And, you’ll probably want or need to get tested again once you hit the five-seven day mark.
But what can you do while you wait? The CDC recommends staying at home and quarantining until you get tested and receive your results. Depending upon if your results are positive or negative, you may need to quarantine for additional days to ensure you are not contagious.
All of the above information is pertinent to non-vaccinated individuals. If you are fully vaccinated, you should monitor your symptoms. If you become symptomatic, get tested and quarantine right away. Otherwise, you do not need to quarantine or get tested.
After infection with COVID-19, it typically takes the body at least two-three weeks to develop antibodies, so you should wait at least that long before seeking an antibody test. Antibody tests look for antibodies in your blood that can help to fight the COVID-19 virus.
It is important to note that antibody tests aren’t used to diagnose a current COVID-19 infection. Instead, they can be used to indicate a past infection. Antibodies can be detected in the blood for several months, and can help to provide some immunity to COVID-19. However, it is unclear how long the antibodies last and to what extent they can help protect you from COVID-19. Whether or not your antibody test indicates you have the COVID-19 antibodies, you should still continue to take precautions to protect yourself from the virus.
In short, yes. However, cases of reinfection are rare, with one study finding reinfection rates at about .31%. While COVID-19 studies about reinfection are currently ongoing, we do know that if a person is reinfected it means they got COVID-19, recovered, and became infected—either by the same variant or a new variant.
Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will not in itself cause you to test positive for the virus. Testing positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated means that you either received a false positive or that you have the virus. The COVID-19 vaccines are considered to be extremely effective, but breakthrough infections can occur, with the CDC estimating this happens in about .1% of fully vaccinated individuals.
If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, the best way to get peace of mind is by undergoing COVID-19 testing. Knowing whether you have been infected will help you and your friends, family, and colleagues plan for how and when to quarantine in the coming weeks to reduce further exposure. For more than 20 years, BioCollections Worldwide has been dedicated to understanding and testing for viruses that impact our communities.
Now that you can answer the question, “how soon after exposure to Corona can I be tested?,” you’ll know what to do if you’ve been exposed. If you’re located in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Los Angeles, Oakland, or Las Vegas, visit a BioCollections testing facility to receive a quick, reliable test.