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How to Give a Rapid Antigen Test to your Child at Home

One of those collective memories of a generation…. getting poked up the nose at the first sign of a sniffle. But with Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs as they’re dubbed down south) now on Queensland supermarket and pharmacy shelves, it’s time for parents to learn how to give a rapid antigen test to a child or teen.

Most commonly available tests are suitable for ages three and up.

Spit test or nasal swab?

How to give a rapid antigen test featured image

There are two kinds of Covid 19 home test kits readily available on the Queensland market and both are considered comparably accurate. The first, available for about $10 – $15 each at chemists, is a nasal swab. While not as extreme as the testing clinic swabs, these are still an uncomfortable option for both the child and the parent.

The second is more expensive but is a “spit” test. At around $15 – $20 per test and available at IGA supermarkets (rolling out across all Queensland supermarkets now), the saliva based Rapid Antigen Test is far simpler to administer.

Note that if you’re stocking up on RAT tests (because kids are germy and schools are getting more cautious) it may be more affordable to purchase them online.

You can find saliva based rapid antigen tests here and nasal swab based tests here.

How to administer a Saliva Based Antigen Rapid Test

Ensure your child has had nothing to eat or drink for at least 10 minutes prior to the test.

Wash your hands, and your child’s hands and dry thoroughly. Have a pair of scissors and a timer handy.

Unpack the contents of the box (some tests require you to retain the box to hold the test so unpack carefully).

You’ll find a collection device (in pieces) a tube of “buffer” fluid and the test. You may also find some very confusing instructions as many of these tests were made where English is not the first language.

Read them carefully as instructions may differ according to the brand of the Antigen Rapid Test.

Attach the funnel to the flexible test tube.

Ask your child to cough deeply enough to produce mucus (into a mask so as not to spread a potential infection).

Ask your child to carefully spit the mucus (isn’t it glorious being a parent) into the funnel.

Send your child back to the couch.

Cut the buffer open at the bottle neck and add to the test tube.

Replace the funnel with the “dropper” lid and gently squeeze the tube, mixing the liquids in the test tube. Do this for 10 – 15 seconds.

Open the test and lay it flat. Carefully add two drops of the liquid to the circular hole in the test. The test result area should begin to slowly change colour.

Follow the instructions on waiting periods. For most RAT tests however, the waiting period is 10 – 15 minutes. Times vary though and leaving a test too long can produce a false positive so take care to read the instructions carefully.

Place all materials in the biohazard bag and seal. These are considered “domestic clinical waste” under Queensland biohazard laws and can be disposed of in your regular rubbish bin IF the test is negative. If your child returns a positive test, you must take all biohazardous materials with you to an official testing clinic.

What does the introduction of RAT tests mean for Queensland schools in 2022

No more two days off for a sniffle! Hooray. With kids as young as five set to receive the vaccine and schools allowing children to return after a negative test, these will help Queensland resume a less chaotic school year.

Some schools have considered introducing RAT tests in the classroom to lessen the chances of a lockdown or temporary school closure – only time will tell if this is necessary.

These tests however are not as accurate as the test your child will receive at an official testing clinic. If your child’s symptoms persist, you should have a PCR test done at your local testing centre.

Family Medical Centres nearby 

Watch this video for more information about the Rapid Antigen Tests in Australia

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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