Antigen tests for children

You can request free antigen tests for your child if there are cases of COVID-19 in their class in school, pre-school or childcare. Antigen tests are only suitable for children over 4.

You don't have to get your child tested. It is up to you if you want to request tests or not.

Your child can still go to school or childcare as long as they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 or they do not get a positive antigen result.

How to order antigen tests

If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your child's class, the school principal or childcare manager will give you the details that you need to order antigen tests from the HSE.

If you have these details, you can order antigen tests for your child.

If your child has symptoms

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19:

Most children do not need to get tested unless they have symptoms and they:

  • have a condition that puts them at higher risk
  • live with someone who has a weak immune system

Find out when your child may need a test for COVID-19

How many antigen tests to do

Antigen testing is more accurate if you do a series of tests on different days.

Your child will need to do 3 antigen tests in total. You can do them at any time of the day. There are 2 spare tests in the box if you need them.

Your child can still go to school or childcare while they are doing the series of antigen tests as long as:

  • they do not have symptoms of COVID-19
  • their antigen test results are negative

When to do the antigen tests

Do the 3 antigen tests in this order:

  1. First test on the day you get the tests.
  2. Second test 2 days after the first test.
  3. Third test 2 days after the second test.

How to do an antigen test with your child

To do the antigen test you use a swab to take a sample from your child's nose.

When you have finished with an antigen test, put it in a plastic bag and put the bag in your bin.

Read step-by-step advice on how to do an antigen test

Watch a video on doing an antigen test with a child:

Antigen test results

The test will show the result in about 15 minutes. The results are quicker than a PCR test because the sample does not need to go to a lab.

There are 3 types of antigen test results:

  • Positive (detected)
  • Negative (not detected)
  • Invalid
Positive antigen test results

If any of your child's antigen tests are positive, they need to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

You should also report the positive antigen result to the HSE.

Negative antigen test results

Do all 3 tests with your child, even if 1 of the tests is negative.

Your child can still go to school or childcare if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

Continue to follow the advice on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Invalid antigen test result

An invalid test means the test did not return a positive or negative result. If any of your child's antigen tests are invalid, use a spare test.

Last updated: 30 March 2022 at 4.35pm