COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Last Updated: April 5, 2021

We are committed to providing regular COVID-19 updates. This page will be updated frequently. 

Important Update:  Due to limited vaccine supply and to ensure equity and access to the vaccine to under-resourced and vulnerable populations, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) is sending their supplies to mass vaccination sites, retail pharmacies, large-scale vaccine sites, and health systems that serve a high number of patients in under resourced communities.  

We realize the frequent changes raise a lot of questions. Beginning in January, Emerson acted quickly to create a vaccine clinic to support our patients. We have followed the state's strict guidelines every step of the way, including who was eligible to receive the vaccine. We have worked hard to ensure that we administered all vaccines delivered to us by the state. Unfortunately, we received limited supplies. 

  • Like many hospitals and physician groups across the state, MDPH is not committing to sending any more supplies to Emerson, and we cannot schedule any first-dose appointments at this time.
  • If you have already received a vaccine at Emerson, your second dose appointment will remain as scheduled. 
  • If we receive additional vaccine, we will contact eligible patients directly to schedule. However, we strongly recommend patients schedule an appointment at one of the public vaccination sites as we are not guaranteed to receive supplies
    • Find a location at: vaxfinder.mass.gov.
    • Schedule an appointment at www.maimmunizations.org.
    • Additional state-run clinics are opening up regularly, and local pharmacies in Emerson's service area should have the vaccine soon.
    • Homebound residents seeking a vaccine should call 844-771-1628 to begin the scheduling process for an in-home appointment.
  • If you need assistance, call the Massachusetts COVID-19 hotline at 2-1-1.
  • Learn more about the state's rollout plan and eligibility at www.mass.gov/vaccine

Questions related to vaccine distribution should be directed to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at www.mass.gov or 2-1-1.

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 VACCINE TIMING & ACCESS


When can I get the vaccine?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is currently in Phase 2 of the MA COVID-19 vaccine distribution time lineResidents ages 55 and older as well as individuals with at least one certain medical condition are now able to schedule their vaccine at one of the state's vaccination sites, in addition to K-12 educators and school staff, child care workers, and workers in certain sectors.

Currently eligible Massachusetts residents in Phase 2 include:

  • Individuals 55+
  • Individuals with at least one certain medical condition
  • Residents and staff of public and private low income and affordable senior housing
  • K-12 educators, child care workers and school staff
  • Transit, utility, grocery, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works, and public health workers

Below is the state’s rollout plan in order of priority. Visit www.mass.gov/covidvaccine for the latest updates.

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What qualifies as a certain medical condition and do I have to prove that I have it?
Individuals 16 and older with at least one certain medical condition are now eligible to receive the vaccine. For details of which medical conditions make someone eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit this Mass.gov website. According to the state, you do not need copies of medical records or a note from your doctor or health care provider to confirm you are eligible for these groups.

VACCINE SIDE EFFECTS & SAFETY

 

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Common or mild side effects are normal and are a good sign that the body is building immunity. Mild to moderate pain at the injection site was the most common side effect reported from trials, especially after the second dose. Fatigue and chills were also common, peaking on day two and fully resolving by day seven. Other side effects noted in the trials were headache, muscle aches, and fever. These side effects were usually mild or moderate and resolved within a few days.
 
I usually feel sick after I get the flu vaccine. Can I get COVID-19 from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine? 
None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine’s goal is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever and malaise (feeling run down). These symptoms are normal and are a good sign that the body is building immunity – it means the vaccine is working as intended.
 
These vaccines were developed very quickly. How can I be sure they are safe? 
The speed of production happened by efficiencies built into the system. No safeguards were skipped, and the FDA is holding the same rigorous safety standards before approval as any other licensed product.

Historically, vaccine development includes a series of steps that can take many years. Given the urgent need for a COVID-19 vaccine, some of the research and development steps happened in parallel. The research and development, adjustments for safety, and efficacy assessments were all made using standard vaccine development practices in line with the FDA regulations.
 
Should I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding? Should I get the vaccine if I am trying to become pregnant?
The Perinatal-Neonatal Quality Improvement Network of MA has created a new page on its website and a shared-decision making aid created by a workgroup from Baystate Health and UMass Medical School. Click here to access the decision aid. The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine strongly recommends that pregnant and lactating people have access to COVID-19 vaccines and that they engage in a discussion about potential benefits and unknown risks with their healthcare providers regarding receipt of the vaccine.
  
Does gender, race, or ethnicity impact the effectiveness of the vaccine? 
The vaccine is safe and effective, regardless of gender, race, and ethnicity. The clinical trials reflected a diverse group of individuals.

ABOUT THE VACCINE

 

What is different about the COVID-19 vaccine? How is it similar to other vaccines like the flu vaccine? 
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA (Messenger RNA) vaccines. mRNA vaccines differ from other vaccines that use weakened or inactivated bacteria or virus to train our immune systems to protect us.

These mRNA vaccines give our cells instructions to make a harmless piece of a protein called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine trains our body to recognize and fight this protein and the virus carrying it, then discards the mRNA.
 
Since these vaccines use mRNA, can they change my DNA? 
The term mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid, which is instructions for making a protein or a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person's genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the cell's nucleus (where our DNA lives) and does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, vaccines that use mRNA work with the body's natural defenses to safely develop immunity.
 
If I get the COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive on the COVID-19 viral test? 
Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States will not cause you to test positive on the viral tests used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of the vaccine, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests (blood tests).

Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccines may affect antibody testing results.
 
Should I still get the vaccine if I have already been positive for COVID-19? 
Current guidance suggests that vaccination should be offered regardless of history of COVID infection. We know vaccination is safe and effective in people who have evidence of prior infection. If you have recently tested positive, wait until recovery from acute illness and isolation period has ended.

If you received passive antibody therapy (a monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma) as part of your therapy, vaccination should be deferred for at least 90 days to avoid interference of the treatment with vaccine-induced immune responses)
 
Can getting vaccinated help prevent me from becoming sick with COVID-19? 
Yes. While many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness or even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. If you get sick, you also may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you while you are sick. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.
 
If I get the vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others? 
Yes. As experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, everyone must continue to use safety precautions, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC's recommendations for protecting yourself and others offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. Read the CDC's guidelines for when you have been fully vaccinated.
 
Will this vaccine interact with other vaccines? 
Because we currently do not know how this vaccine interacts with other vaccines, it is not recommended that you get this vaccine with any other vaccines. If you have recently received another vaccine, you should wait 14 days before getting the COVID vaccine. You should not get any other vaccines until 14 days after the second dose of the series.
 
Do we know how long the vaccine will provide immunity? 
Because these vaccines are new, it is unclear how long immunity will last for the current vaccines. On December 3, it was reported that subjects that received the Moderna vaccine retained high levels of antibodies for at least 90 days following the second dose of the vaccine series. We will learn more as more time passes.

Additional Resources