Everyone in B.C. aged 18 and up can now access free rapid tests at their local pharmacy.
The province moved to lower the age to 18 on March 23 after announcing tests would be available for those aged 30 and up earlier this week.
Rapid tests can be accessed by displaying your personal health number at the pharmacy. Only one kit containing five tests can be picked up within a 28-day period. Tests can be picked up on behalf of other people, but you will need their personal health number, name and date of birth to do so.
B.C. began ramping up the distribution of rapid tests in late December when COVID-19 cases were soaring, driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant. The province had faced staunch criticism earlier in the pandemic for not deploying rapid tests more widely. In November 2021, B.C. had only received 2.7 million rapid tests and deployed 1.3 million.
Data from the Government of Canada shows that B.C. has now received 43,581,361 rapid tests. Of those, the province says 7.8 million have been shipped to pharmacies and more than 2.7 million have been dispensed. Across all priority populations and pharmacies, more than 34.7 million tests have been distributed. Not all of the rapid tests procured by the province are suitable for at-home use.
The province first began distributing free rapid tests through pharmacies on Feb. 25 to those aged 70 and over. In a news release, the province said they expect to receive another 4.4 million tests from the federal government by early April.
Alongside the pharmacy distribution network, the province has deployed rapid tests at community testing sites, to rural and remote communities, work camps, the K-12 school system, the post-secondary school system, the health-care system and long-term care facilities.