Vaccines and Immunizations

Vaccines strengthen the immune system to help protect our health. Vaccines are our best defense from many serious diseases.

How to get vaccinated?

If you are a CHA patients, please schedule a vaccine in MyChart or call your primary care center. You can get your shots at your next appointment. You can also visit a CHA pharmacy (age 19+) or a local pharmacy near you.

Why get vaccinated?

Vaccines keep communities healthy. When 95% of people in a community are vaccinated for a disease, it can prevent a serious outbreak. Vaccines can help prevent serious illnesses in infants, children and adults. Some can even protect you from life-threatening diseases for your entire life. 

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines contain weakened or inactive parts of an antigen (germ) that naturally causes your body to create an immune response. Vaccines are usually given with a needle, called a shot. After getting vaccinated, your body will be able to fight off the disease you were vaccinated against, preventing serious illness.

Are vaccines safe?  

Vaccines are safety tested with a system that has been in place since the 1980's. Each vaccine goes through a rigorous scientific process that requires clinical studies, trials and reviews before receiving FDA approval.

Respiratory illnesses can be serious, find out when you need to see your provider.

Why Immunizations are Important

CHA's Greg Hagan, MD, reflects on the evolution of vaccines during his career as a pediatrician.

Learn about how vaccines became such an important part of preventative healthcare and why they keep children healthy.

  • Recommended Vaccines for Children (0-18)

    CHA pediatric clinics follow CDC and Massachusetts immunization guidelines. Immunizations are the best way of preventing many serious childhood illnesses.

    During the first ten years of life, it is recommended your child receives the following recommended vaccines, based on their age, to provide the best protection from serious illness:

    • Hepatitis B (HepB)
    • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
    • Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP)
    • Hepatitis A (HepA)
    • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
    • Chickenpox (Varicella)
    • Polio (IPV)
    • Influenza (flu)
    • Pneumococcal (PCV)
    • Rotavirus (RV)
    • HPV vaccine (can be given as early as 9 years old)

    What vaccinations should my preteen and teenager receive?

    Children aged 11-12 are recommended to receive the following vaccines:

    • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine
    • HPV vaccine
    • Tdap
    • Flu vaccine

    Resources:

    • Click here for the 2023 recommended immunizations for children from birth through 6 years old.
    • Click here for the 2023 recommended immunizations for children 7-18 years old.
    • Click here to learn more about these vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Recommended Vaccines for Adults (19+)

    As part of your annual wellness visit, you will want to make sure you are up to date with all of your vaccines. As you get older, your immunity from your childhood vaccines may wear off. You are also at risk for other diseases as an adult based on your age, health conditions and lifestyle.

    What are the recommended vaccinations for adults?

    • The seasonal flu shot
    • The COVID-19 vaccine
    • Hepititis B
    • Tdap
    • Zoster vaccine (shingles vaccine)
    • Pneumococcal vaccines
    • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine

    Talk to your provider at your next annual wellness visit to make sure you are up to date on your recommended vaccines. Learn more about these vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by clicking here.

  • COVID-19

    COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe, effective and the best protection against serious illness and complications. Everybody 6 months and older can now get a COVID vaccine. Vaccine recommendations are based on your age, the first vaccine you may have received, and the time since your last dose of the vaccine. It is encouraged to be fully vaccinated to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. 

    What does being fully vaccinated mean?

    Everyone 6 years and older needs to have at least one updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. Depending on the number of doses they have already received and their age, children in the 6 months - 5 year age range may need multiple bivalent doses to be considered up to date. If you are 65 and older or are immunocompromised, you may receive additional doses of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Your body needs about two weeks after your final shot to be fully protected by COVID-19. Talk to your provider today to make sure you are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccine. 

    What are the common side effects?

    Side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine can be different for each person. Some of the common side effects are:

    • Pain or redness and swelling in the arm where you received the shot
    • Fever and chills
    • Tiredness
    • Headache
    • Muscle pain
    • Nausea

    Call your provider if your symptoms do not go away after a few days or if the pain where you got your shot gets worse after 24 hours. 

    Allergic reactions and adverse events are rare but can happen. Please plan to be monitred for 15 minutes after your shot by a healthcare provider. If you think you may be having a severe allergic reaction, call 911. 

    How can I get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

    If you have an upcoming CHA appointment, just ask to be given the COVID-19 vaccine when you come in. You can schedule a vaccine appointment on MyChart or by calling your primary care center. If you are not a CHA patient, call a care center near you to become one.

    Learn More

  • Hepatitis A

    Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is very contagious but preventable with a vaccine. Found in bodily fluids, Hep A can be easily transmitted through person-to-person or sexual contact. Eating contaminated food and drink is another way to get Hep A. 

    The best way to protect yourself against Hep A is to complete the two dose series of the vaccine. Vaccination is recommended starting at 12 months old and is proven to be safe and effective. If you think you were exposed to the virus, you can reduce your risk of illness by receiving a single dose of the vaccine within two weeks of exposure. 

    Some people may be at higher risk of infection and serious illness. These people may include:

    • People who use or inject drugs

    • Men who have sex with men

    • International travelers

    • Pregnant woman

    • Unhoused people

    • People with chronic liver disease or HIV

    Contact your primary care provider to make sure you are up to date on your Hep A vaccine. 

    CHA’s Zinberg Clinic offers expert medical care for patients who develop Hep A. Click here to learn more about the Zinberg Clinic. 

    More Hepatitis A Information

  • Influenza (Flu)

    Influenza (flu) is a disease of the body’s respiratory system, which includes the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu is caused by a virus and can be very serious, especially for people with certain health conditions. Flu season typically lasts from October through May, but peaks between December and February. During an average flu season, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and there are tens of thousands of deaths, caused by influenza. Getting vaccinated against the flu significantly lowers your risk of developing serious illness and complications. 

    Flu vaccines are manufactured each year to provide protection against the multiple influenza viruses that research indicates will be transmitted the most during the upcoming flu season. There are different flu vaccine options available and are recommended based on ages groups. Everyone 6 months and older are recommended to receive a flu shot each year. Most flu vaccines are given with a needle in the arm, but there are nasal spray vaccines availble as well. Some people may be advised against getting a nasal spray flu vaccination like pregnant woman. Certain groups of people with specific health conditions or allergies are not recommended to receive a yearly flu shot.  

    What are common side effects?

    • Soreness
    • Redness or swelling where the shot was given
    • Headache
    • Fever
    • Nausea
    • Muscle aches
    • Fatigue

    If you have any concerns about getting an annual flu shot, talk to your provider before the start of the next flu season.

    Learn More

  • Meningitis

    Meningitis is swelling around the brain and the spinal cord. It is most commonly caused by viral or bacterial infection (other causes can be fungus, injuries, or certain medications). Some meningitis infections will not require any medical treatment or care, but others can cause hospitalization or death. Vaccination against meningitis can protect yourself and others.

    Learn More

  • Mpox (Monkeypox)

    Mpox (Monkeypox) shows up as a rash or lesions usually after flu-like symptoms. The Mpox vaccine is available by appointment for CHA patients only.

    Learn More

  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

    People with RSV usually have cold-like symptoms and recover in a week or two. But, RSV can be serious especially for high risk patients. Infants and older adults may need to be hospitalized. 

    If you're 60-64 years old and a CHA patient, you can protect yourself from RSV. Please call your CHA Care Center to schedule a vaccine appointment. Anyone over 65 can get an RSV shot at any CHA Pharmacy. If you are pregnant, you can get vaccinated between 32-36 weeks to protect your newborn after birth. Please ask your provider at your next prenatal visit. Due to a state-wide shortage, CHA is not able to provide pediatric RSV vaccinations this season.

    Learn More

  • Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

    Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful itchy rash.  Shingles is caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus also known as chickenpox. Your risk of getting shingles increases as you get older, if you already had chickenpox, or you are immunocompromised. About one third of the U.S. population will get shingles. Vaccination against shingles starting at 50 years old can protect yourself and others.

    Learn More

  • Vaccines during pregnancy

    Getting vaccinated during your pregnancy protects you and your baby against serious illnesses, especially during the first few months of your babies life. The CDC recommends two vaccines during every pregnancy, the Flu vaccine and Tdap vaccine. The Tdap vaccine provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

    The COVID-19 vaccine has been found to be safe and effective for both mother and baby. If you are pregnant, you are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 and are at a higher risk for complications. Therefore, it is now recommended for pregnant women to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during their pregnancy. We understand there are a lot of questions and hesitency towards receiving the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant. To try to make your decision easier, we have created some videos for you that will hopefully answer your questions about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant. Click the links below to watch:

    Routine vaccines are safe and recommended for breastfeeding mothers. It is important to stay up to date on your vaccinations to keep you and your new baby healthy. Talk to your provider today about getting vaccinated during your pregnancy. 

  • Vaccines for Travel

    If you are traveling outside the US, you may need special precautions to protect your health, including immunizations or medicine. First, make sure you are up-to-date on all of your routine vaccines, then check out how CHA can help you customize your health travel plans based on your destination!

    At CHA we provide a full range of services to help adults and children stay safe and healthy during travel. 

    Learn More

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