Can I Use a Lateral Flow Test on My Child?
Children of all ages can get infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
If your child is showing Covid -19 symptoms, you may be tempted to use a lateral flow test. But do you know the minimum age for lateral flow test? And is a FlowFlex antigen test or any other LFT safe for children? If you also have concerns like “my child won't let me do covid test” or wonder how to do covid test on 2-year-old, you’ve come to the right place, as here we are going to investigate these questions.
Well, let’s find out below.
Can You Test Your Child for COVID-19 With a Lateral Flow Test?
By May 2022, national Covid-19 testing data in England showed that 1 in every 4 positive Covid-19 cases was in children and young persons aged below 20 years.
So, children, just like adults, get infected with Covid-19. The good news is that they’re less likely to get severely ill from the virus as adults.
If you suspect your little one has Covid-19, you may be wondering if it’s safe to use a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) or if there is another Covid test for children.
Well, there is no minimum age for Covid test in UK, and all government-approved lateral flow tests are safe and suitable to be used for all ages. Also, there isn’t a unique Covid test for children in the UK, although there is guidance on how to do Covid test on 2-year-old and other children who may be unable to self-swab.
Most LFTs use nasal or throat swabs. Children aged 12 to 17 can successfully self-swab with supervision from a parent or a guardian. For children who are under 11, an accompanying adult should administer the swab. As a parent, you’ll also need to explain the Covid-19 testing procedure to your child and let them know why you’re going to collect the swab.
When Should You Test Your Child for COVID-19?
Children should undergo a Covid-19 test if they have coronavirus symptoms. The recognized three main Covid-19 symptoms to look out for include:
- Continuous cough – This is coughing that goes on for more than one hour. It also includes three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.
- High temperature – If your child feels hot to touch on the chest or back, then they have a high temperature. You can also measure their temperature, and anything above 37.8C is high.
- A loss or change in smell or taste – If your child complains that they can’t smell or taste anything, they may have a loss in smell or taste. They may also complain about a change in the sense of smell or taste.
If your child has one or more of these three symptoms, then you need to arrange a test for them. They also need to self-isolate at home until they take the Covid-19 test. If the test result turns out to be negative, they can go back to their usual activities as soon as they feel well enough. If the test turns out to be positive, they will need to isolate for at least three days.
If your child experiences shortness of breath or any other severe Covid symptom, contact your doctor immediately.
How to Help Your Child While Doing a Covid Test?
There are instructions on the Healgen test kit or any other rapid antigen kit you’ll be using. Make sure you read them and follow them step by step.
To help your child with the test, you can:
- Explain the Covid-19 test to them using pictures, their favorite toy, or a video.
- Show them the swab and explain that you need to put it in their nose or throat. Let them know that the process may be uncomfortable, but it won’t take long.
- Be honest with your child and let them know that the swab needs to be taken to help improve their health condition.
- Have them hold a teddy bear or their favorite toy before the swab. You can also play their favorite song or talk to them about a nice thing you’ll do together after the test.
- If your child is uncomfortable, have them sit on another family member’s lap or let the person hold their hand.
- If you’re taking a throat swab, ask your child to make a loud ‘argh’ sound as they open their mouth. You can show them how to make the noise first.
- If they’re crying, take a break. Remain calm, reassure them, and try the Covid-19 testing later.
- It may be impossible to take a throat swab from a very young child such as a two-year-old. In this case, use a Covid-19 test that requires a nasal swab or a saliva sample.
- When you’re done collecting the sample, thank your child for being great, and then do something enjoyable together.
Lateral flow tests are suitable for use for all ages, including among children. While children who are between 12 and 17 can self-swab under adult supervision, younger children will need to be assisted by an adult. Ensure you make your child comfortable and talk to them about the Covid-19 test before swabbing.