Asymptomatic re-testing program
Vanderbilt University is launching a new re-testing program for members of its community who receive a positive COVID-19 PCR test but are without symptoms. Beginning this week, undergraduate students who are tested in the university’s weekly mandatory testing programs and other community members participating in Vanderbilt’s periodic testing who meet defined criteria will be retested to confirm their initial positive test result. Only those asymptomatic campus community members who are tested through Vault and student-athletes participating in the SEC athletic testing program (administered by third-party medical testing provider, PAE) are eligible for the re-testing program. Individuals tested through other programs or providers are ineligible.
For all Vault tests administered starting Monday, October 12, students, faculty, postdocs and staff who are asymptomatic and receive a Vault or PAE positive test result will immediately go into isolation, following existing protocols. Under the new system, there will be up to three additional opportunities to re-test. Any additional positive test during this retesting phase, or the onset of symptoms, will be considered a confirmation of the original test and individuals will remain in isolation.
An individual who remains asymptomatic and receives three consecutive negative PMG test results after their initial Vault or PAE positive will be released from isolation. The individual will then return to weekly mandatory testing if an undergraduate student, or to periodic testing if another member of the campus community. Any individuals who were close contacts to a case confirmed as a false positive will be released from quarantine.
Why is the testing protocol changing?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the university has adapted and adjusted its COVID-19 policies as new information has become available in order to protect the health and safety of the Vanderbilt community as much as possible. The university is now able to launch this re-testing program due to the availability of the rapid-cycle retest protocol through Premier Medical Group (PMG).
Why is there a difference between symptomatic and asymptomatic testing?
Symptomatic testing is performed on an individual when they have symptoms of COVID-19. This type of test is performed by a health care provider specifically because the individual is reporting symptoms. Asymptomatic testing is performed on individuals that do not have symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of testing. The routine weekly testing for our undergraduates is an example of asymptomatic testing.
I am in quarantine. Can I use the retesting program to test out of quarantine?
Consistent with Metro Health requirements and TN Department of Health and CDC guidance, no one can test out of quarantine with a negative test result. At any point up until the 14th day after the last exposure you have to a positive individual, you might still develop COVID-19 and become infectious. If the individual who you were a close contact with tested through Vault (asymptomatic testing) and through the retesting program is found to be negative (receives 3 negative results) then you will be notified, and your quarantine period may end early.
If the individual who you were a close contact with tested through Vault and is found to be positive through the retesting program or was symptomatic and tested through Student Health or another medical facility, you will need to complete your quarantine period as directed. While we understand it is frustrating and inconvenient, anyone who has been declared a close contact will need to continue in quarantine for the required period of time and not attend in-person classes, work or other on-campus activities. We do not permit anyone to override the university’s testing with other test results.
I am currently in isolation and have reason to believe it is a false positive. Can I be part of the retesting program?
Only those who received positive test results from Vault tests administered on or after Monday, October 12 can be part of the retesting program. This is due to the timing required for retesting follow up relative to the initial positive test result.
What about grad/professional students, faculty and staff?
For all Vault tests administered starting Monday, Oct. 12, students, faculty, postdocs and staff who are asymptomatic and receive a Vault or PAE positive test result, will immediately go into isolation, following existing protocols. The new protocol will be implemented the day after receiving the results of the initial positive Vault PCR test as follows:
I tested positive. Who do I contact to be part of the retesting program?
Those who have tested positive will be instructed about what to do by the Public Health Central Command Center and if they are eligible to participate in the retesting program.