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COVID-19 Vaccine

Trust the facts. Get the vax.

On February 17, the state expanded the list of people who can get a COVID-19 vaccine. However, based on guidance from the state, we are unable to make any new first dose appointments at CHA at this time. 

If you already have a vaccine appointment at CHA (for your first or second shot), please come at your scheduled time. We are not cancelling any appointments. If you have an appointment, we have a dose waiting for you.

When the state lets us offer new first-dose appointments again, we will reach out to our eligible patients. We do not have a waitlist.

Other Vaccine Locations

If you are eligible for a vaccine, you may be able to get a dose at one of the state’s large vaccination sites or a local retail pharmacy. Please check the state website at vaxfinder.mass.gov or call 2-1-1.

Are You Eligible for a COVID Vaccine?

In December 2020, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved two COVID vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) through its “Emergency Use Authorization” process. 

The state criteria for COVID vaccine is as follows:

Aged 65 and older.

Live in private or public low-income or affordable senior housing.

Are a healthcare worker, first responders, home health aide, or someone who lives or works in a long-term care facility, shelter, or correctional facility.

Have two or more conditions (comorbidities) that may lead to severe COVID. Learn more about conditions that qualify as comorbidities.

Getting a Vaccine at CHA

Important information:

You must have an appointment to get a vaccine. CHA does not have a waitlist and does not accept walk-ins.

We cannot guarantee what vaccine (manufacturer) will be available on the day of your appointment.

Companions of seniors cannot get a vaccine at CHA. Please visit the state website for locations accepting companions. 

Medicare patients should bring their CMS issued Medicare card to their appointment, regardless of whether they have a Medicare Advantage plan. CHA still must bill CMS-Medicare for this service.

Answering Your Questions

Please open the links below for important vaccine facts and information.

  • Vaccine Questions from our Patients and Communities
    Who Can Get the COVID Vaccine?

    Because so many people need to be vaccinated, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has set guidelines on who can get the COVID vaccine first. Some groups will have priority access, like health care workers and people who are likely to get very sick if they have COVID (older people, people with certain medical conditions). There are three phases for the vaccine roll-out:

    COVID Vaccine Image 1-25

    Most of the general public will not be able to get a vaccine until Phase Three (April - June).

    Can Children get the Vaccine?

    Not yet. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 16 and older and the Moderna vaccine is approved for 18 and older. This is because the clinical trials for the COVID vaccines did not include children.

    Both Pfizer and Moderna are currently testing the vaccine in children 12 and older, but it will be some time before results are available.

    What Medical Conditions are Considered "Co-Morbidities"?

    For the purposes of getting the vacccine, co-morbidities are medical conditions that put people at sever risk of illness from COVID-19. Please visit the state vaccine website for a current list.

    How will the Vaccination be Given?

    COVID-19 mRNA vaccines (such as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) are given in two doses. It is injected with a needle into the upper arm, just like a flu shot.

    Is the Vaccine Safe?

    COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of people in clinical trials. The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality.

    Millions of people in the United States have already received COVID-19 vaccine. Over 63 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine were given from December 2020 - February 21, 2021 with the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.

    For more details, please refer to the New England Journal of Medicine articles on the safety and efficacy of the mRNA vaccines: (Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine).

    Can I get COVID from the Vaccine?

    None of the RNA vaccines contain live virus. Therefore it is not possible to get infected with COVID from these vaccines.

    Because no vaccine is 100% effective, it is still possible to get COVID even after you are vaccinated. But the research shows that people who get the vaccine can fight off the virus more effectively if they get infected.

    What are the Side Effects of the Vaccine?

    Vaccines can have side effects, which are usually mild. At this time, the side effects of the COVID vaccine appear to be similar to those of other vaccines, including fever or other flu-like symptoms. CHA, along with state and federal health authorities, will carefully monitor patients for any side effects of the COVID vaccine.

    Some people experience soreness where they get the shot and others develop mild flu-like symptoms for a day or two. When your body has these kinds of responses, it’s a sign that the vaccine is working. You are creating antibodies to the disease. Long term side effects are extremely rare from vaccines. There are much higher risks of negative long term effects from getting COVID than getting vaccinated.

    Are the Vaccines Safe for People of Color? 

    Both Pfizer and Moderna included people of color in their research. For example, 10% of people in the Moderna clinical trial were Black and 20% were LatinX. Data shows both vaccines are safe for these communities

    Since people of color are impacted at higher rates from COVID-19 than white people, we want to make sure everyone in these communities gets the COVID vaccine. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and help your community address inequity. 

    How was the Vaccine Developed so Quickly?

    The mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) vaccines were developed more quickly than other vaccines, but there are reasons for this. First, while the technology has not been used before, it has been in development for over a decade. Second, because of the pandemic, resources around the world were redirected to vaccine development, rather than focusing on other areas of research. We are lucky that the vaccine was able to be developed quickly, but no steps were skipped in the regular development and authorization processes.

    How can I Trust Information I Get About the Vaccines? 

    Check your sources. The best place to get vaccine information is from government websites like the MA Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control. You can also check credible publications that have scientific, peer reviewed research. The research results show that these vaccines are highly effective in protecting you from COVID-19 after 2 doses.

    Will the Shots be Free? 

    The vaccine will be given at no cost to you. Your insurance company may be billed for covering the cost of giving it to you. 

    If I Already had COVID, do I Need to Get the Vaccine? 

    Yes. The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated regardless of whether they already had COVID. This is because we do not yet know how long you are protected from a second infection after you recover from the first.

    If I have Allergies, or an Underlying Medical Condition. Should I Get the Vaccine? 

    People with allergies or underlying medical conditions can get a COVID vaccine as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID.

    I had Guillain-Barre. Can I get the COVID vaccine? 

    There have been no cases of Guillain-Barre (GBS) reported after the COVID vaccine. The CDC guidance is that people with a history of GBS can receive the vaccine.

    I had Bell’s Palsy. Can I get the COVID Vaccine?

    There have been cases of Bell’s Palsy reported in the vaccine trials but the rates are so low that the FDA cannot conclude that they are even related to the COVID vaccine, or just random. The CDC guidance is that people with a history of Bell’s palsy can receive the vaccine.

    I have had Facial Fillers. Can I get the COVID Vaccine?

    Temporary swelling of areas surrounding facial or lip fillers have been reported with the Moderna vaccine. This has not been reported with the Pfizer vaccine. This was included in the FDA document about the Moderna vaccine. All three cases were mild and localized. This is not a reason to not get the vaccine.

    Why get the Vaccine if we can Just use Masks and Social Distancing?

    We need to use all tools available to stop this pandemic. Masks and social distancing work, but they are not perfect, and some people still get sick. Adding all of our resources together is what will stop the virus from spreading.

    How Long Will I Need to Wear My Mask?

    It’s going to take several months for the vaccines to become available to everyone. We still have to protect others until the vaccine has reached the majority of the population and we know that the most vulnerable have vaccine-induced protection. Please keep wearing your mask, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands often.

  • Vaccine Questions About Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    Please speak with your prenatal provider if you have concerns or questions about getting vaccinated.

    Should I get vaccinated if I’m pregnant?

    The “decision to vaccinate must be left to each patient in consult with their trusted clinician” according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). They are advocating the vaccine be made available to pregnant individuals who want to be vaccinated. Vaccines are common during pregnancy and considered part of good prenatal care.

    Initial research on the COVID vaccines did not include enough pregnant women to give information about how it impacts pregnancy. None of the 18 people who were pregnant had complications. 

    Data shows that pregnant women with COVID have higher rates of serious illness, including ICU admissions and the need for mechanical ventilation. Other diseases like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes increase these risks. High risk groups are encouraged to get vaccinated to help them protect their health. 

    Do the vaccines cause miscarriages?

    There is no evidence that the vaccines cause miscarriages.

    When should I get vaccinated during my pregnancy?

    It’s best to speak with your provider and make a decision based on your risks of exposure to COVID as well as risks of getting very sick if you do get the virus. 

    Can reactions to the vaccine harm my pregnancy?

    Some people experience soreness where they get the shot and others develop mild flu-like symptoms for a day or two. When your body has these kinds of responses, it’s a sign the vaccine is working. You are creating antibodies to the disease. Long term side effects are extremely rare from vaccines. There are much higher risks of negative long term effects from getting COVID than getting vaccinated.

    Can the vaccine harm my newborn if I’m breastfeeding? 

    There is no information on the safety of the vaccine and breastfeeding. It is likely that COVID-19 antibodies that you create from the vaccine will get passed to your baby through your breastmilk, just like other antibodies. 

    Will the vaccine make me not be able to get pregnant?

    No, there is no evidence that the vaccines cause infertility.

    Should I get vaccinated if I’m planning on getting pregnant?

    Getting up to date on all of your vaccinations is a part of good prenatal planning. Having a pre-pregnancy visit with your provider is a good way to get the information you need to help your body be in great physical shape for a healthy pregnancy.

    Resources:

    Decision aids in pregnancy

  • COVID Vaccines - Facts vs. Fiction

    Misinformation and conspiracy theories travel faster than facts, especially during a crisis. That is called an infodemic.

    Make sure you are getting your information from trusted sources. Avoid non-scientific publications and voices.

    Here are some facts about the COVID vaccines:

    • The vaccine will let your body create antibodies to prevent you from getting COVID-19.
    • The vaccine will not change your DNA.
    • There is nothing "bad" in the vaccines. There are no preservatives, metals, live virus, tracking devices or pig products.
    • The vaccines were developed to help everybody - people from across the world, of all ethnic backgrounds. 
    • People with asthma and allergies should get vaccinated. If you have severe medication allergies, please check with your primary care doctor first.
    • People who do not have documents should get vaccinated. ICE/immigration will not be notified.

  • After Your Vaccine
    I had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to the first dose. Should I receive the second dose?

    If you had a severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) to the first dose, you should not receive the second dose. If you had another immediate reaction (e.g. urticaria, stridor wheezing, angioedema within 4 hours), you should consult with an allergist-immunologist before receiving the second dose.

    I developed a rash about a week after my vaccine. Is that OK and can I still receive the second dose?

    Some people have gotten delayed reactions to the vaccine, like rashes or lymph node swelling. You may still receive the second dose.

    I got my first dose and then got COVID. Is it from the vaccine?

    It is not possible to get COVID from the vaccine, because the vaccine does not contain the COVID virus or the instructions to make it.

    I got my first dose and then got COVID. Can I get the second dose?

    You can receive the second dose as long as it has been 10 days since you developed symptoms or tested positive, meaning that you are safe to end isolation, and you are feeling better.

    I have symptoms of COVID after the vaccine. Are these side effects or should I be tested?

    We recommend that people who develop symptoms of COVID get tested, even if they have had the vaccine.

  • Multilingual Resources
  • For More Information

    We know people sometimes worry about vaccines, but we believe that the COVID vaccine is an important tool to help end the pandemic.

    Your CHA care team is here for you if you have any questions or concerns when the vaccine becomes available to patients.

    You can also visit the following websites:

    www.mass.gov/covidvaccine
    CDC COVID-19 Vaccine page

Note: the information provided on this page, or through linkages to other sites, is for education only. It is not a substitute for professional or medical care. You should not use this information in place of a visit, call, consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider.

Trusted Voices

Having concerns about vaccines is understandable. The health care system should work for everyone, but historically it has failed people of color because of racism. CHA continues to work to make sure everyone has equal access to health care and is treated the same.

Agnes Graves, MD

“I got the vaccine because as a physician, I consider it my duty and responsibility to do everything in my power to help end this pandemic. Too many people are suffering. I have lost many patients who were very dear to me. This has to end.”

Cristiane Salvino, Patient Access Rep.

“It was important to get the COVID-19 Vaccine because both my parents, especially my mom, are high risk. Now that a piece of hope has finally arrived, I couldn't miss the opportunity. I did it for my mom, my community and me!”

Rodney Durand, OR Technician

“I got vaccinated to give me peace of mind. After doing some research, I felt comfortable about getting it."

Galina Tan, MD

"I got my COVID vaccine because I want to do my part to get this pandemic under control, and so I can eventually travel to see my family again!"

Worried about getting vaccinated while pregnant?

Family Medicine doctor, Julia Randall, MD shares her experience about being pregnant and getting vaccinated.

Watch more videos by Dr. Randall:

Talking about the new variants
Risks of getting vaccinated when pregnant
Breastfeeding and the COVID vaccine
Making the choice to get vaccinated

The WGBH program Basic Black, featuring a panel of Boston-area physicians.

Vaccine Information in Spanish: 

A short video about why CHA PACE personal care attendant Marlene Rojas got vaccinated.

NPR:

Black doctors tackle vaccine hesitancy

Video:
short video from Nancy Gaden, CNO of Boston Medical Center. Explains how the vaccine works and has talking points to share with patients, family, and friends.



--This message will be updated when more information is available--

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