Claim your free COVID tests starting today

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests indicating a positive result are photographed in New York,...
FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests indicating a positive result are photographed in New York, April 5, 2023. The Biden administration has announced that it is providing $600 million in funding to produce new at-home COVID-19 tests and is restarting a website allowing Americans to again order up to four free tests per household.(Patrick Sison | AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 8:58 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:03 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut health officials urged residents to claim free COVID-19 tests from the federal government.

The Biden Administrations opened up the ordering process to people on Monday from the website

The Connecticut Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that households may order up to four free tests through the website. It said the tests were intended for use through the end of the year and will detect the currently circulating COVID-19 variants.

Dr. Scott Roberts, associate director of infection prevention at Yale New Haven Hospital, said it was a good time to order the kits. He said COVID cases have ramped up in the state.

Respiratory illnesses typically get worse in the winter months. Respiratory disease season typically runs from Oct. through April.

“The new strategy is going to shift. The COVID vaccine [is] much simpler, much more similar to what the flu has been,” Roberts said. “You just get the updated shot once a year. You usually want to time it for the fall or sometime right before we expect cases to start peaking. So, it’s just one shot once a year, [and] you can get it with the flu vaccine or you can get it separated from the flu vaccine. [It’s] safe to do really either strategy.”

Connecticut residents were also encouraged to visit to see if the expiration dates of any test kits they currently have at home have been extended.

“These at-home tests are an important component of the COVID-19 toolbox that we have at our disposal,” said Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD, Department of Public Health. “In addition to these at-home tests, all people 6 months and older are eligible to receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine. If you are sick (e.g., fever, respiratory symptoms) please stay home. Consider wearing a high-quality mask when respiratory viruses are circulating at high levels in your community. These are all the ways we can continue to protect ourselves and manage this virus.”

Juthani said that the hope was that COVID-19 would follow the trajectory of other respiratory illnesses including influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Roberts said that though his hospital has not yet seen high levels of RSV, it’s still early in the season. He recommended getting the vaccines sooner rather than later.

“There’s there’s two vaccines for the elderly,” he said. “A new vaccine that just got approved for pregnant woman and then there’s also a monoclonal antibody treatment for infants at birth. That was also approved. So, we’ve gone from having zero treatment vaccine options for RSV to four really over the past a year, which I think is great news and gives a lot of optimism going into this winter season. And last winter season was pretty bad for RSV, so I can only hope things are going to be better this year.”

When it came to the RSV vaccine, Roberts said it needed to be spaced out from the COVID and flu vaccines.

Individuals were encouraged to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for the latest guidance.

The DPH said Connecticut residents can contact their health care provider to receive the updated COVID-19 and flu shots at the same time or they can make an appointment at a retail pharmacy, such as CVS and Walgreens. Patients can visit to find a location for COVID-19 and flu vaccines.