Harvard Teaching Hospital logo

COVID Vaccine

News and information for CHA patients

In December 2020, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved two COVID vaccines (developed by Pfizer and Moderna) under its “Emergency Use Authorization” process. This is an important step in our fight against the virus. 

When can CHA Patients Get the COVID Vaccine?

At this time, CHA does not anticipate having COVID vaccine for most patients until spring 2021. However, this timeline may change. We will provide more information as soon as we can. We do not have a vaccine waitlist, so there is no need to call your CHA care center. We will be in touch with our patients as soon as we have vaccine updates.

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:

    Most of the general public will not be able to get a vaccine until Phase Three (April - June). Currently, the vaccine is only approved for use in adults. Children are not getting vaccinated at this time.

    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?

    We believe that all vaccines approved for use will be safe and effective. While the vaccines being developed for COVID work slightly differently, they all train our immune system to recognize the disease. 

    Please note, the technology and science used to create the mRNA vaccines is not new. It has been in development for over 17 years. None of the RNA vaccines contain live virus, and it is not possible to get infected with COVID from these vaccines. 

    If you are pregnant, talk to your primary care provider, OB/GYN or Midwife before getting vaccinated.

    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? 

    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. 

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

    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 had COVID, do I Need to Get the Vaccine? 

    Most likely. There’s not enough data to tell how long natural immunity (when you’ve had the disease) lasts. 

    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.

  • 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 in the vaccines.
    • 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.

  • 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:

    CDC COVID-19 Vaccine page

Other Trusted Voices
This 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--

Affiliated with:
Teaching Hospital of: