BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As COVID cases creep back up across Alabama according to state health officials and CDC data, the rise is also causing a shortage of at-home covid tests at local pharmacies and stores, as well as national chains, such as CVS and Walmart.
The Cahaba Pharmacy has been out of at-home COVID tests for over a week.
“I have so many patients who come in here looking for the product and say that they haven’t been able to find it at other pharmacies also,” said Jim Parekh, pharmacist at Cahaba Pharmacy.
Parekh said the pharmacy has had to turn away dozens of people searching for at-home tests as local cases and hospitalizations increase due to summer travel, schools re-starting and various omicron strains.
“It is concerning … Patients aren’t able to test at home,” Parekh said. “They’re not sure what they have, then they have to wind up going to the physician’s office and potentially get sick or potentially make others sick.”
The pharmacy hopes to have at-home tests back in stock by the end of the week.
However, many pharmacies still offer both the rapid and PCR covid tests administered by pharmacists, but it could now cost you up to $150. After the federal covid emergency officially ended in May, insurance is no longer required to cover testing.
“After the public health emergency ended, that money that the federal government was providing to make sure all tests were free was no longer available,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Health experts hope the updated covid vaccine coming out in September will curb future spread. Still, Stubblefield said there is a third option for getting tested.
“If they can’t find a place to test, they can always call their county health department (and) make an appointment,” Stubblefield said.
Those without insurance can go to testinglocator.CDC to find a list of sites still offering covid tests for free.