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COVID-19

Self-tests

WARNING! Counterfeit Flowflex and iHealth COVID-19 home test kits are circulating in the US. Learn more.
FREE SELF-TESTS Ver pagina en Español
free
There are a number of ways to get self-tests at no cost:
  • Most health insurance, including Medi-Cal and Medicare, cover the cost of self-tests. Contact your health plan for instructions. If you go to a pharmacy and they don’t take your insurance keep your receipts. Most health plans will reimburse some or all of the cost. Most pay for up to 8 at-home tests per month for each person on the plan. The test must be authorized by the FDA. For more information, visit the CMS webpage How to get your At-Home Over-The-Counter COVID-19 Test for Free. A list of FDA-authorized home-tests can be found here.
  • Public Health vaccination sites offer free test kits. Click here (Spanish) for hours and locations.
  • Some community centers offer free test kits.

PCR home collection test kits are also available at no cost from several locations. For these tests, you collect the sample and it is tested in a laboratory. Visit ph.lacounty.gov/covidtests/how for more information.

 

HOW TO USE A SELF-TEST

Video also available in Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL). Manufacturers' instructional videos are available here.

  • Check the expiration date. If an antigen self-test is past its expiration date, it may still be good to use. Follow the instructions below to see if you can still use the test.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s step by step instructions exactly.
    The instructions are in the test kit box. They include how to interpret the test results.
    You can find the test manufacturers' instructional videos here.
    Be sure to discard kits (and all components) promptly after use/test results.

  • Keep all parts of the test kit out of reach of children and pets before and after use.
    Supervise children when testing. The chemicals and small parts can cause harm if they are used incorrectly. Learn more from this FDA at-home COVID-19 test safety message.

  • Make sure that you understand your test results  - read the results section on the instructions that come with the test. It is recommended that negative tests are repeated 48 hours later - see FDA At-Home COVID-19 Antigen Tests- Take Steps to Reduce Your Risk of False Negative Results. For additional guidance, on what your results mean and what to do next, click here.

For more information on home test kits, visit the CDC self-testing website.

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU CAN USE THE TEST BEYOND ITS EXPIRATION DATE
free
  • The expiration date is on the box. It is printed as year- month - day. For example, 2022 11 20 means November 20, 2022.
  • If you have a COVID-19 home antigen test that is past its expiration date, you may still be able to use it. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health supports the California Department of Public Health’s endorsement of the emergency use of COVID-19 antigen self-tests beyond their expiration date.
  • How to make sure the test is still good to use:
    • Read and follow the instructions in the box carefully.
    • Check that the control line on the test is visible.
      • The color should match the color stated in the instructions.
      • If the control line is not visible or the color of the line is different than in the instructions, it is invalid. Do not use the results of this test. Take a new sample and use a new test from a different box.
      • If the control line is visible and the color of the line is the same as in the instructions, the test is good to use.

      test exmaple

      Download or print these instructions: English | Spanish

BEWARE OF FAKE AND UNAUTHORIZED TEST KITS
warning
  • Check that your test is authorized by the FDA
    Visit At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests (Spanish) to see if your test is authorized.

  • Check that the test is not a fake
    Look at the box and materials for:
    • Poor quality images or text on the label or instructions
    • Missing key information, such as the lot number, expiration date, barcode or QR code (See photos of examples - click the name of test on the FDA webpage and scroll down to view)
    • Spelling or grammatical errors
    • Parts of the kit that do not match the description (for example, missing instructions, missing or empty components, different number of parts).
    • Trade name, labels, or instructions that look different from the authorized labeling on the FDA website: At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests | FDA

Learn more about counterfeit at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests (FDA webpage) and how to avoid buying fake test kits online (Federal Trade Commission) and other COVID-19 scams and fraud.

If you think you bought a fake COVID-19 test, please report it to the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at bit.ly/CBAHelp or 1-800-593-8222.

DO NOT USE THE FOLLOWING TESTS

Check here to see if your test might be counterfeit:

  • 4-29-22: Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Tests
  • 4-29-22: iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kits

Note: As of 4-29-22, the FDA is not aware of any counterfeit tests distributed by the U.S. Government test distribution programs.

Do not use these tests that are not authorized, cleared, or approved by the FDA.

  • 10-13-22: Jiangsu Well Biotech COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device Recall FDA Recall
  • 8-2-22: North American Diagnostics Oral Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test Kit Recall FDA Recall
  • 5-17-22: Woodside Acquisitions, Inc. Oral Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test Kits and Joysbio SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test Kits (Colloidal Gold) Class 1 Recall FDA Recall
  • 5-10-22: Skippack Medical Lab SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test (Colloidal Gold) Class 1 Recall FDA Recall
  • 3-17-22: SD Biosensor Inc. STANDARD Q COVID-19 Home Ag Test Class | Recall FDA Recall
  • 3-2-22: Celltrion DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test (green and white packaging). FDA message
  • 3-1-22: ACON Laboratories Flowflex SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test (Self-Testing). FDA message
  • 2-4-22: E25Bio COVID-19 Direct Antigen Rapid Test. FDA message
  • 1-28-22: Empowered Diagnostics CovClear COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test and ImmunoPass COVID-19 Neutralizing Antibody Rapid Test. FDA message
  • 1-11-22: LuSys Laboratories COVID-19 Antigen Tests (may also be labeled Luscient Diagnostics, Vivera Pharmaceuticals, or EagleDx). FDA message

For more information, visit the FDA safety webpage. If you are using a home-test kit, check the FDA's website to make sure your test is authorized. If you had a problem with a COVID test, please report it to FDA’s MedWatch program.

 

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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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