Need a COVID or flu test before your South Florida flight? What to know for the holidays

Lynne Sladky/AP

The holidays are here and people are starting to travel and gather with family.

For some, it means getting tested before they meet up with Grandma. Others might choose to wear a mask when they go out to crowed places or while on a plane to reduce their risk of getting ill. COVID-19, the flu and other viruses are circulating across the country, after all.

And if your plans include flying internationally, well, you’ll probably want to triple-check that you meet all the requirements to enter and leave your travel destination. Some countries might still have vaccine or testing requirements.

Here’s a guide to help you prepare for the holiday rush:

Do you still need to get tested to travel? Wear a mask? What about vaccine proof?

If traveling in the U.S., COVID-19 testing, masking and proof of vaccination is not required. If traveling internationally, some countries are still requiring proof of a negative COVID test or proof of COVID vaccination.

COVID-19 testing, for example, is no longer required to enter the U.S by plane. However, people flying into the U.S. who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents must show proof that they’re fully vaccinated to enter the country.

Check with your airline or cruise for the most up-to-date information for your travel destination.

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Is COVID testing being done at Miami and Broward airports?

COVID-19 testing is still available at Miami International Airport. Tests at the airport cost $79 to $179. If you’re flying to or from MIA, you can visit two test sites.

One of the sites is on the ground level of Concourse E, in front of Door 11. The site, which is open around the clock, has antigen and rapid PCR tests. Antigen results are available within 15 minutes and PCR test results are available within 40 minutes.

For testing costs or to pre-register, visit the Family Rehab, Inc. website or call 305-869-1161.

MIA has another test site near the TSA Checkpoint in Concourse H on the departures level at Door 20. This test site is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and offers Antigen, PCR and Rapid PCR tests. You can schedule an appointment, but it’s not required.

PCR test results are available within 24 hours, Rapid PCR test results are available within one hour and Antigen test results are available within 15 minutes. For testing costs or to pre-register, visit the Nomi Health website or call 305-280-0694; toll free at 833-685-0700.

If you’re flying in and out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, you’ll need to look elsewhere for a COVID-19 test. FLL’s test site closed Dec. 3.

Where else can you get a COVID test in South Florida? And what about a flu test?

Miami-Dade County has an online locator you can use to find a COVID-19 test site near you. Another option is to use Nomi Health’s online locator to find a test site in Miami-Dade or elsewhere in Florida.

Some of the Nomi Health test sites that remain open in Miami-Dade County include Zoo Miami, Miami Dade College North campus, Aventura Mall, Dolphin Mall, and Tropical Park, which is open around the clock.

At these Nomi Health sites, you get a BOGO deal: A single nose swab simultaneously tests for COVID-19 and influenza A and B.

For people who live in the U.S. and have insurance, your policy should cover the cost of the COVID and flu tests. For people who live in the U.S. and don’t have insurance, don’t worry: Your tests are free. For people who don’t live in the U.S. and don’t have insurance, you can still get tested at Nomi Health sites, but expect to pay about $75 for the COVID and flu test or about $50 for a COVID test.

Keep in mind that test sites will close at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. All Nomi Health testing sites will also be closed on Christmas, according to Miami-Dade’s COVID-19 test site locator.

In Broward County, you can visit three COVID test sites. The sites, which are operated by Broward’s health department, offer free PCR testing to everyone and free rapid nasal swab testing for people 2 to 18.

The sites:

Paul Hughes Health Center, 205 NW Sixth Ave. in Pompano Beach. This site is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

South Regional Health Center, 4105 Pembroke Rd., near Hollywood. This site is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

Broward Library Branch (Children’s Reading Center), 751 SW 121st Ave. in Davie. This site is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. This test site also offers COVID-19 vaccines for kids 5 and older.

Low and no-cost COVID-19 tests are also generally available at other locations, including CVS, Walgreens, community health centers, private health companies and urgent care centers. These places generally offer flu tests, too. Most insurances cover flu testing, but check with your provider. Some places, like CVS and Walgreens, may also test for COVID and the flu simultaneously.

What about at-home COVID tests? Can you get them free?

Another testing option is to swab yourself at home.

At-home test kits are available at retailers including CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Amazon. Most insurance plans cover up to eight free at-home COVID test kits each month.

If you have insurance, there are two ways to get a free at-home test. One option is to buy your test at an “in network” pharmacy or store. Another option is to submit a reimbursement claim to your insurance plan. Check with your insurance for more details.

The federal government is also offering free at-home COVID-19 test kits again, whether or not you have insurance. You can request four free tests per U.S. household at

In case you’re wondering, you won’t find any approved at-home flu tests on the shelves. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration gave the OK earlier this year to an at-home test from Labcorp Pixel that swabs for flu, COVID and RSV. But you have to mail the sample in for lab testing, which can take one to two days to produce results, so the turnaround isn’t as quick as the at-home COVID tests, which usually provides results in 15 to 30 minutes.

Can you still get a free COVID-19 vaccine or booster? What about the flu shot?

COVID-19 vaccines and the updated bivalent booster, which is designed to help protect against the original COVID strain, as well as the omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 lineages, are still free — for now.

Flu shots are also free.

A tip: If you’re planning to get the flu shot, shop around. Some retail pharmacies like Publix and Winn-Dixie sometimes offer discounts, gift cards or coupons if you get vaccinated against influenza.

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