How Long Does CVS PCR Test Take?

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made testing a crucial part of our lives. One of the most reliable tests available is the CVS PCR Test. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll answer the question, “How long does a CVS PCR test take?”


The CVS PCR test typically delivers results within 48 hours, although some users have reported receiving results in about 36 hours. However, the turnaround time can vary depending on factors such as lab schedules, surge in COVID-19 cases, testing demand, and testing capacity at specific CVS locations. It’s always best to check with your local CVS location for the most accurate and current information.

What is a CVS PCR Test?

A CVS PCR test is a molecular test for COVID-19 offered by CVS Health. It’s a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test that detects the genetic material of the virus, thus making it highly sensitive and accurate in detecting a true positive result. PCR tests generally require a patient’s sample to be sent to a lab for analysis, so results can take anywhere from several hours to days after being received at the lab.

How Does a CVS PCR Test Work?

The CVS PCR test works by collecting a sample of nasal secretions using a swab. The individual inserts the swab approximately 1 inch into the nasal passage (midway) with the more visible drainage or the nostril that is more congested if drainage is not present. The swab is rotated several times and removed gently, and this process is repeated on the other side. The sample is then sent to a lab for analysis, where the genetic material of the virus is detected if present.

How Long Does It Take to Get Results?

Typically, lab-based PCR test results are available within 48 hours. However, some users have reported receiving their results in about 36 hours. It’s important to note that turnaround times may be affected by factors such as lab schedules and demand for testing.

Factors That Can Affect Turnaround Time

  1. Current surge in COVID-19 cases: During periods of increased COVID-19 cases, the demand for testing may rise, leading to longer turnaround times for test results.
  2. Increased testing demand: High demand for testing can strain laboratory resources and lead to delays in processing and reporting test results.
  3. Testing capacity at specific locations: Some CVS locations may have limited testing capacity, which can affect the time it takes to receive results.

How Accurate is the CVS PCR Test?

PCR tests are generally considered the gold standard for COVID-19 testing due to their high sensitivity rate. While CVS Pharmacy could not provide specific data on the accuracy of self-swab tests, a representative stated that the self-swab process has been successful. The CDC also allows this sample collection method to support increased testing.

The Process for Getting a CVS PCR Test

To get a CVS PCR test, you must first check your eligibility, find a testing location, schedule an appointment, prepare for the test, self-administer the test, and then wait for the results.

Can CVS PCR Test Detect All Variants of the COVID-19 Virus?

Yes, the CVS PCR test can detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus, including multiple strains and variants.

What to Do While Waiting for Your CVS PCR Test Results?

While waiting for your CVS PCR test results, you should stay home and away from others, wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask around others, monitor your symptoms, maintain good hygiene practices, and consider getting tested again if you develop symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Finding Out the Turnaround Time for a Specific CVS Location

To find out the turnaround time for a specific CVS location, you can visit the CVS store locator page and enter the store’s address or ZIP code. For more specific information, you can call the CVS location directly to inquire about their turnaround times.

In conclusion, the CVS PCR test is a reliable and accessible testing option for COVID-19. While the turnaround time for results can vary, it is typically within 1-2 days. However, it’s always best to check with your local CVS location for the most accurate and current information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of a CVS PCR test?

The CVS PCR test is offered at no cost to patients, regardless of insurance status. However, if you have health insurance, you should bring your card with you as CVS may bill your insurance company.

Can I take a CVS PCR test if I don’t have symptoms?

Yes, you can take a CVS PCR test even if you don’t have symptoms. This is especially important if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or if you’re planning to travel.

Do I need to make an appointment for a CVS PCR test?

Yes, you need to make an appointment for a CVS PCR test. Appointments can be made online through the CVS website.

Can children take the CVS PCR test?

Yes, children can get tested at CVS. However, the age limit for testing varies by state, so it’s best to check the CVS website for specific information.

What should I do if my CVS PCR test result is positive?

If your CVS PCR test result is positive, you should self-isolate immediately to prevent the spread of the virus. You should also contact your healthcare provider for further instructions and inform your close contacts so they can take necessary precautions.

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