BOSTON (CBS) – With all the focus on vaccines right now, health officials are pleading with the public to not forget about COVID-19 testing.

“We really, really need to continue to have people test if they’re exposed to someone with COVID, if they get symptoms, so that we can assess if they have COVID positivity and potentially use that to test for variants,” Dr. Robert Klugman of UMASS Memorial Health Center.

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During the holidays, there were lines outside of COVID testing facilities, as people got tested after traveling or so they could go visit someone.

Now, testing seems to have become an afterthought for many of us and many epidemiologists warn that testing is a key weapon in defeating this virus and its new variants.

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“Individuals who have either had COVID or have been vaccinated, if they become symptomatic, it’s very important to test them, because that’s going to be the way we come to know about variants,” said Dr. Helen Boucher of Tufts Medical Center.

Epidemiologists warn vaccines are not foolproof, and testing remains an important weapon.

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“We know this is four times more fatal than the flu virus so it’s going to be with us for a long time and we’re going to need to be vigilant,” Klugman said.

Bill Shields