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COVID-19 testing at VA

We offer free COVID-19 self-test kits and diagnostic lab tests for Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care. Read this page to learn how to get self-test kits, how to schedule a lab test, and what to do next based on your results.

Why early COVID-19 testing is important

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, take a self-test at home or request a lab test appointment at VA. If your result is positive, tell your health care team right away.

If you need treatment, you must start it early for it to work. Some treatments must start within 5 days of your first symptoms.


Get free COVID-19 self-test kits

How to get free self-test kits

Get free self-test kits from VA

If you’re enrolled in VA health care, you can request up to 2 free self-test kits at your next primary care appointment or urgent care visit.

We’ll also provide self-test kits to Veterans in other situations, depending on local supplies. For example, we’ll provide self-test kits to Veterans who are currently experiencing homelessness and living in shared community spaces.

Other ways to get free self-test kits

You can also get more free self-test kits at many local pharmacies. If you have health insurance, your plan may pay you back for tests. Check with your local pharmacies for more information. 

Find more about ways to get tests at COVID.gov

What to do next based on your self-test results

  • If you didn’t take your test during a VA video appointment, take a picture of your test results. You can share this picture with your VA health care team.
  • Contact your VA health care team right away. If you need treatment, you must start it early for it to work. Some treatments must start within 5 days of your first symptoms.
  • Separate yourself to keep others safe. Isolate for at least 5 days from when you first started having symptoms or from when you tested positive. If you can’t fully isolate, wear a well-fitting mask any time you’re around other people for at least 5 days.
  • Tell anyone who you’ve been in close contact with in the past few days that you tested positive. For COVID-19, a close contact is anyone who was less than 6 feet away from you for a combined total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. 
  • Monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms get worse, contact your provider or nearest VA health facility. To get reminders for when to contact your care team or a nurse advice line, you can use our Annie text messaging service.
    Subscribe to the Annie text messaging service
  • If you have any signs of emergency, call 911 or get help right away. Signs of emergency include symptoms like trouble breathing or continued pain or pressure in your chest.
    Get the latest COVID-19 symptom information on the CDC website

Note: If your self-test results are positive, you don’t need to schedule a lab test.

Follow the test instructions for next steps.

Schedule a COVID-19 lab test at VA

Who can get a lab test at VA

We offer diagnostic lab-based tests (PCR tests) for Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care.

At this time, we don’t charge copays for COVID-19 tests. We follow testing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How to schedule your lab test

The fastest way to get a test is to request an appointment. You can request an appointment in any of these 3 ways: 

Note: Don’t come in person to a VA health care facility without an appointment, unless you need urgent or emergency care. This helps us keep you and your fellow Veterans healthy and safe.

What to know when you come for your test appointment

  • We screen everyone who enters a VA health facility for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • You must wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth while you’re in a VA health facility.
  • If you have any symptoms that could be COVID-19, call the facility before you come in for your test appointment.

How to get your lab test results

We usually have test results in about 3 to 4 days.  

If you were tested at a VA health facility and you have a My HealtheVet Premium account, you can get your test results online as soon as we have them. If you don’t have a My HealtheVet Premium account, you can get one now. 

Learn how to get your results through My HealtheVet  

Your VA or community care provider will also call you with your test results when they’re available. If you have concerns about your results, call or send a secure message to your provider.

What to do while you wait for your results

Note: If you call your facility’s nurse advice line, please know that our nurses can’t give you your test results. They can answer health-related questions. But they don’t have access to your personal health information.

What to do next based on your lab test results

This means you had an active infection at the time of testing.

  • Talk with your provider right away. If you need treatment, you must start it early for it to work. Some treatments must start within 5 days of your first symptoms.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms get worse, contact your provider or nearest VA health facility. To get reminders for when to contact your care team or a nurse advice line, you can use our Annie text messaging service.
    Subscribe to the Annie text messaging service
  • If you have any signs of emergency, call 911 or get help right away. Signs of emergency include symptoms like trouble breathing or continued pain or pressure in your chest.
    Get the latest COVID-19 symptom information on the CDC website

Learn what to do when you have COVID-19 on the CDC website 

This means you didn’t have an active infection at the time of testing. It doesn’t mean you haven’t been infected since that time or won’t become infected in the future.

Continue to follow safe practices. These include practices like wearing a mask, physical distancing, and washing your hands often. 

Get COVID-19 prevention advice on the CDC website  

Note: This test also won’t tell you if you were infected with the coronavirus in the past. That’s a different type of test called an antibody test.

Learn more about COVID-19 tests on the FDA website 

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