COVID-19 PCR tests for children

Your child will usually need a PCR test if they:

Read about antigen tests for children if you child has been offered antigen tests

Your child's PCR test

We will send your child's PCR test details and results to you by text message.

The test that children have is simpler than the test adults have. Their test sample is taken using a nasal swab. A swab is a type of cotton bud. It's put between 1cm and 2cm inside each of your child's nostrils for a second or two.

Your child will usually get their result within 48 hours. But it can take longer. If you are waiting more than 3 days for your child's result, phone HSELive on 1800 700 700.

Information:

Make sure the contact tracer has the correct mobile number for you. Delays happen when we do not have your correct mobile phone number.

What to do if your child has symptoms of COVID-19

Children who are close contacts

If your child is being tested because they are a household close contact and are not fully vaccinated, they may need to have 2 tests. We'll let you know if this is the case.

If your child needs a second test, it will usually be 10 days after your child was last in contact with the person who tested positive. If the last contact with this person was more than 8 days ago, they will only have 1 test.

What to do if your child is a close contact

While your child waits for their PCR test and results

What you and your child need to do depends on your situation.

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19

Your child should isolate from other people.

When they get their test result, they'll be told what to do next.

If your child does not have symptoms and they are a household close contact

Your child needs to restrict their movements (stay at home) for 14 days.

This is from when you get the close contact text message from the HSE.

Read more about when your child may be able to stop restricting their movements early

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you need to:

Do these even if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or had a positive PCR test in the past.

Isolating from other people and restricting your movements are two different things. In both cases, your child should not go to school or childcare.

Read about self-isolation (stay in your room) and restricted movements (stay at home)

Test results for children

You'll get your child's test result by text message usually within 24 hours of their test.

It will be one of the following:

Read more about COVID-19 test results

Bringing your child to a test centre

You may need to drive your child to a test centre. It may be a strange experience for your child. They will see people in protective clothing and may find this frightening. Explain to them what will happen before they go.

What to expect at a COVID-19 test centre

These visual guides may also help children who need to be tested:

Getting ready to go to the Test Centre (Comic) (PDF, 5.54 MB, 3 pages)

Autism Social Story for Testing (PDF, 837 KB, 4 pages)

Getting ready to go to the COVID-19 test centre

Watch a video for children on what to expect when they attend a COVID-19 test centre.

Getting ready to go to the COVID-19 test centre

Watch a video for children on what to expect when they attend a COVID-19 test centre.

Last updated: 3 January 2022 at 9am

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