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December 23, 2021

Philly residents can get free rapid COVID-19 tests prior to Christmas

The city health department is offering two kits per person. Here's how to get them

Prevention COVID-19
COVID rapid tests Medakit Ltd./Unsplash

Philadelphia health officials are distributing free, at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests in an effort to encourage people to get tested prior to attending holiday gatherings. The Medakit test pictured above may not be the type people receive.

UPDATE (12/23/21): The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has canceled its final rapid COVID-19 test kit giveaway that had been scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Waterview Recreation Center. Officials cited a lack of supply. 

"The Health Department’s testing kit giveaway started on Saturday, December 18th with the goal of distributing 24,000 testing kits, each containing two tests, before Christmas," the health department said. "The testing kits were distributed at nine Health Department walk-up vaccine clinics held throughout the city and several small community outreach events in target neighborhoods. Virtually all of the testing kits have been successfully distributed."

There has been unprecedented demand for rapid test kits in lead-up Christmas, as COVID-19 cases have risen significantly with the spread of the omicron variant. 

The White House announced an upcoming program to distribute rapid at-home testing kits directly to the public, but that program will not start until after the new year. 

Philadelphia residents can pick up free, at-home, rapid COVID-19 test kits at several vaccination clinics being held throughout the city this week. 

City health officials have strongly discouraged holiday gatherings this year due to a surge in infections and the emergence of the omicron variant. But they also have recommended that families who plan to celebrate with other households take COVID-19 tests beforehand, even if they're vaccinated. 

At-home, rapid COVID-19 tests – while not as accurate as PCR tests – are the easiest way to test right before any holiday gatherings. However, they can be difficult to find and the cost can add up quickly when purchasing them for an entire family. 

To help families protect themselves, the Department of Public Health is offering free, rapid test kits at several vaccine clinics before Christmas, spokesperson James Garrow said.

Due to a limited supply, the free kits are restricted to two per person. Each kit contains two tests. Though the kits are being given away at vaccination clinics, residents don't need to get vaccinated to pick them up. However, health officials strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated or receive a booster shot, if eligible. 

Here are the clinics where the kits are available:

Tuesday, Dec. 21
• Tacony Library, 6742 Torresdale Ave., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Lonnie Young Recreation Center, 1100 E. Chelten Ave., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Lillian Marrero Library, 601 W. Lehigh Ave., 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 22
•MLK Older Adult Center, 2101 Cecil B. Moore Ave., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Lawncrest Library, 6098 Rising Sun Ave., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 23
•Waterview Recreation Center, 5826 McMahon St., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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