Albertsons and Vons pharmacies in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties are offering at-home COVID-19 tests for customers who want to opt out of waiting for an appointment or the nasal swab.
Albertsons Companies piloted saliva test kits in the Houston, Austin, and Boise markets and their success has pushed the company to begin offering the kits in Southern California and on the Central Coast.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ALBERTSONS COMPANIES
COMFORT OF HOME At-home COVID-19 test kits are now available for purchase at Vons or Albertsons in SLO, Paso Robles, Grover Beach, Nipomo, Santa Maria, Orcutt, and Lompoc.
Vons Pharmacist Will Sparks, who works at the San Luis Obispo location, said there’s no qualification or age restriction for the test.
“The only real prerequisite is that the person needs to be able to generate enough salvia to produce a sample,” Sparks said.
The kit comes with a tube for saliva, instructions, a next-day shipping envelope, and contact information for the local pharmacist. Customers who are interested in ordering a test must visit scheduletest.com, which, similar to placing a medical subscription, is how the pharmacist will process the order.
“If they want to come pick it up, they’re welcome to come into the pharmacy as long as they’re asymptomatic. We obviously don’t want people who think they have COVID coming into the grocery story and spreading germs they can have,” he said.
If the customer is unsure of their exposure to the virus or have symptoms, Sparks said a family member can pick up the kit for them or the pharmacy offers a delivery service for an additional charge.
Once the test is completed, the customer will mail their sample tube to Phosphorus Diagnostics lab. It takes about 72 hours to process once the lab receives the sample.
“The accuracy on this particular test is roughly 98 percent, which is right on par with the deep nasal swaps that you would get at a doctor’s office or urgent care,” Sparks said.
The kit costs $139.99, however Sparks said it’s beneficial to customers because it’s non-invasive as opposed to the nasal swab.
“Even for the younger demographic, I think kids will be more susceptible to having to spit into a vial than get a nasal swab,” he said.
Customers can produce their sample in the comfort of their own home, rather than have to go to a doctor’s office, clinic, or urgent care center and potentially expose themselves to the virus.
Currently Albertsons Companies pharmacies are unable to bill insurance directly for the test, so test kit payment will be out of pocket.
Sparks said it’s not to say that customers shouldn’t keep their receipt and submit it to their insurance for a possible reimbursement, but he can’t guarantee whether the health insurance provider will accept it. ∆