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Another pharmacy lowers COVID-19 testing eligibility age

Rite Aid changes testing age to 13
(WJRT)
Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 5:05 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - We shared with you 49-year-old Bobby Jackson’s long but triumphant battle with COVID-19 Tuesday on ABC12 News at 11.

What you didn’t hear is that he believes he contracted COVID-19 from his 14-year-old son. While his son was OK, overcoming flu-like symptoms, Jackson could’ve very well died.

“I believe he ended up contracting it and then when we got in the vehicle we both kind of took our mask off,” Jackson said. “When you’re preparing for death like this *snaps finger,* it can have some effect on you.”

Now we are taking a closer look at what’s being done to prevent younger, healthier people from passing the virus to their more vulnerable relatives.

While many questions remain about a potential COVID-19 vaccine that would be safe for children, health leaders are focusing their efforts in other areas, too.

“We have lowered our eligibility for age down to age 13,” said Chris Altman, Rite Aid Clinical Manager.

Beginning December 1, Rite Aid will test children as young as 13-years-old across 300 testing sites at no charge in partnership with DHHS. The eligibility age before was 18.

“In the original parts of COVID you kind of think through the steps we took really pulled children out of that ability to contract, and we really didn’t understand because children weren’t showing a lot of symptoms,” Altman said.

Now we know, based on information from the CDC, that even though most children have mild symptoms or none at all, they can still spread the virus to others.

We checked to see how the numbers stack up in Michigan. Nearly 30,000 people in the 10 to 19 age group have contracted the virus out of more than 320,000 cases statewide. Age group 0 to 9 has about 7,800 total cases.

“Because, you know, we put kids back in school, we put kids back in activities, we saw some of those lockdown restrictions adjust and change. We saw the potential for those children going out and getting COVID or carrying the virus, coming back home spreading it to family, caregivers,” Altman said.

Other pharmacies also have started testing younger people. CVS tests children as young as 12 and Walgreens tests children as young as 3-years-old.

Now that we are in holiday season and potentially seeing more family, experts say it could save lives.

“You don’t know what to mitigate if you don’t know who is positive and negative, so getting those tests to make sure these kids are truly negative to make sure there’s less of a risk if we start bringing people together really is the goal here,” Altman said.

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