Informational Alert | Coronavirus Updates
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People age 16 and older who live, work, or study in Massachusetts can get vaccinated and, effective immediately, providers in Massachusetts may begin to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to individuals age 12 and older. The COVID-19 vaccine is free and one of the best ways to protect yourself and those around you from getting sick from COVID-19. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

 

To find a location, we recommend the following:

 

Online:

  • Six of the Commonwealth’s mass vaccination sites will open for walk up vaccination. These sites include the Hynes Convention Center, the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, the Double Tree in Danvers, the former Circuit City in Dartmouth, the Eastfield Mall in Springfield and the Natick Mall.
  • Residents should still go to VaxFinder to find a location near them and plan their vaccination. Residents will be able to use each site’s VaxFinder listing to either book appointments or view more details about walk-up appointments. VaxFinder also lists important information like each site’s accessibility options, MBTA Trip Planner and more. Over 500 locations have open availability on VaxFinder.
  • In addition, below are other ways for eligible people to find an available appointment:

By Phone:

  • You can call 2-1-1, the Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line.
    • Hours: Mon-Thu, 8:30 am. – 8:00 p.m., Fri-Sun, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
    • Live call center workers will be available in English and Spanish, and 100 additional languages will be available through translators.

Safety

The City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Public Health Department recognize that there are many questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Safety Image

The available COVID-19 vaccines are approved and recommended by the FDA and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices following standard testing and approval processes. By prioritizing resources and efforts, the vaccines were developed quickly and never at the expense of safety. More vaccine safety information is available in this flyer and at mass.gov/COVIDVaccineSafety

The Cambridge Public Health Department has provided the following "Frequently Asked Questions," created from a variety of reputable sources, which can help us all do our part to learn more and debunk untrue and dangerous claims. The below are current as of April 29, 2021. Please visit Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Information for the most up-to-date information.

Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Are all three available vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) effective?

Yes, all three vaccines are very effective. While the vaccines made by the three companies cannot be compared directly because of differences in the way they were developed and studied, they all offer excellent protection and are all effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and death.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes, all of the vaccines are safe.

  • All the standard safety rules were followed for making the vaccines.
  • All of the vaccines being used in Massachusetts, including the Johnson & Johnson (J&J), have been tested with many people (across different age groups, countries of origin, races and ethnicities).

Why was the J&J vaccine paused by the CDC? Is it safe for me to get the J&J vaccine now that is available again?

On April 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) paused use of the J&J vaccine after receiving reports of a very small number of women who developed a rare and severe type of blood clot after receiving the J&J COVID-19 vaccine.

During the pause, medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC examined available data to assess the risk of the rare blood clotting disorder associated with the J&J vaccine. It also gave federal health agencies time to educate the medical community about how to recognize and appropriately treat this rare disorder, known as thrombosis-thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

On April 23, the CDC accepted the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to resume the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because they had confidence that the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.

The decision was also based on the scientists’ conclusion that the benefits of the vaccine for the overall population far outweigh the rare risk of TTS, particularly now that the blood clotting disorder and treatment protocols are better understood.

As of April 23, federal health agencies had confirmed 15 cases of TTS out of nearly 8 million J&J vaccines administered. All cases occurred in women and most were between the ages of 18-49, with a median age of 37.

The panel also recommended that a warning label be added to the vaccine packaging noting the very rare blood clotting disorder risk.

If I’m offered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, should I wait until I can get either Pfizer or Moderna?

No. For most people—including women under the age of 50—getting the first available COVID vaccine is the best thing you can do to safeguard your health. Your odds of contracting a possibly life-threatening case of COVID-19 are much higher than your odds of serious side effects from the vaccine.

However women under age 50 should be counseled about the rare risk of the blood clot disorder (TTS) after getting the J&J vaccine and should be told about the availability of other FDA-authorized vaccines. If, after being appropriately informed, a woman in the age group 18--50 years decides she would like the J & J vaccine, it is a very reasonable and safe choice.

People with a history of or personal risk for blood clots (including taking oral contraceptive pills) should speak with their health care provider about other COVID-19 vaccine options.

For more information on the safety and effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the CDC website.

If I got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, am I at risk?

If you received the J&J shot, and have not developed any of the symptoms associated with the blood clotting disorder within three weeks, the risk of an adverse reaction is very unlikely. The symptoms of concern include:

  • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site

People should seek medical care right away if they develop one or more of these symptoms.

How could the COVID-19 vaccines be developed so fast?

This is how the vaccines were made so quickly:

  • Scientists have been studying coronaviruses for many years, so they knew a lot about them.
  • The type of vaccines used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (called mRNA vaccines) have been used in cancer vaccine studies for many years. This gave scientists a head start.
  • The type of vaccine used in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (called viral vector vaccines) has been used since the 1970s. Some vaccines recently used for Ebola outbreaks have used viral vector technology, and a number of studies have focused on viral vector vaccines against such infectious diseases as Zika, flu, and HIV.
  • Many scientists all over the world worked on vaccine development together.
  • Companies usually wait until all of the studies are complete, and then they start making vaccines. With the COVID-19 vaccine, they started making the vaccines much sooner. As soon as the vaccines were found to be safe, the companies were able to complete the safety approval process and ship them to the states.

Will my child be able to get vaccinated?

The Pfizer vaccine is approved for children age 12 and older. Vaccine safety trials for children under age 12 are happening now but are not yet done. Children under age 12 will be able to get vaccinated once the vaccine is approved for them.

When will I be able to get vaccinated?

All Cambridge residents age 12 and older are now eligible to be vaccinated. Appointments and walk-in options are readily available.

Where can I get vaccinated? How do I sign up?

  • People in Massachusetts can currently get vaccinated at large public vaccine clinics, pharmacies, and regional vaccine sites.
  • Use vaccines.gov to find locations and make appointments (English and Español). You can also search by type of vaccine.
  • Use the vaxfinder.mass.gov to find locations and make appointments (available in over 100 languages)
  • Search pharmacy sites at CVS.com, Riteaid.com, Walgreens.com, Starmarket.com, or Stopandshop.com
  • Sign up for Somerville (CHA Vaccine Center), Medford (Tufts University), and Everett (Encore Boston Harbor) vaccine sites at camb.ma/metronorth (available in five different languages)
  • Walk-ins are welcome at many sites, including the CHA Somerville site, CVS, and mass vaccination sites.

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have a history of allergic reactions?

If you have had an immediate allergic reaction - even if it was not severe - to a vaccine or injectable medication, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you have allergies not related to vaccines or injectable medications - such as food, pet, venom, environmental or latex allergies - the CDC recommends that you get vaccinated. People with a history of allergies to oral medications may also get vaccinated.

Are there side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine?

All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnsen, can cause mild side effects after the first or second dose, including:

  • Pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain

These reactions mean the vaccine is working to help teach your body how to fight COVID-19 if you are exposed. Most side effects happen within the first three days after you get the vaccine and last only one to two days.

The COVID-19 vaccine can cause an allergic reaction right after getting the vaccine, but very rarely. That’s why people are watched for 15 or 30 minutes after they receive the vaccine to make sure that they are not allergic.

Are the vaccines free?

The vaccines are being offered for free by the federal government. Doctors and insurance companies are not allowed to ask patients to pay for the vaccine.

Do I still need to wear a mask, social distance and practice good hand washing if I have been fully vaccinated?

  • We know that the vaccine protects you from getting sick from COVID-19. But we don’t know yet if you can still spread the virus to others even after being vaccinated.
  • Even after you are fully vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask in certain situations and follow state and local mask requirements. You should continue to wash your hands often and keep at least 6 feet away from others.
  • On April 27, 2021, Governor Baker announced new guidance regarding mask wearing indoors and outdoors, which can be found here.
  • Additionally, on April 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance for mask wearing based on 1) whether you have been vaccinated, 2) if you are indoors or outdoors, and 3) who you are spending time with. This easy-to-follow guidance can be found here.
  • With the increased spread of the new variants, it is now more important than ever that we all continue to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

What has changed for me if I’ve been fully vaccinated?

You are fully vaccinated:

  • two weeks after one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or
  • two weeks after the SECOND dose of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

After you are fully vaccinated, you can do the following things safely:

  • Visit indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or social distancing
  • Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from one household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease without wearing masks or social distancing
  • Skip quarantining and testing after you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 as long as you don’t have any symptoms

For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to take certain safety measures to protect others, as listed here.

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?

No, the vaccine does not cause COVID-19. None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines were made with the virus.

If I had COVID-19, do I still need the shot?

People who have had COVID-19 should get the vaccine. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.

If you have had COVID-19, you should have completed isolation and have no symptoms of COVID-19 before getting the vaccine.

Will the shot hurt or make me sick?

Some people might get sore muscles, feel tired, or have mild fever after getting the vaccine. These reactions mean the vaccine is working to help teach your body how to fight COVID-19 if you are exposed. For most people, these side effects will last no longer than a few days. If you have any concerns, call your doctor or nurse.

How many shots do I need?

It depends upon what type of vaccine you receive.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots for you to have full protection.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one shot for you to have full protection.

Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding? Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to get pregnant in the future?

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should discuss this with their obstetric provider. The risk of Covid illness to pregnant women is high. While pregnant women were not initially included in vaccine trials, those women who became pregnant while in the vaccine trials were watched carefully, and did just fine after vaccination.

If you are breastfeeding, you can still get the vaccine and do not need to stop breastfeeding.

Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to get pregnant in the future?

Yes. People who want to get pregnant in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Based on current knowledge, experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to a person trying to become pregnant, either now or in the future. Like other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines are being studied carefully and will continue to be studied for many years. There is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of ANY of these vaccines.

Does the vaccine contain eggs, pork (or other animal) products or gluten?

The COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) being used currently in Massachusetts do not have any:

  • Eggs, pork (or other) animal products or gluten
  • Antibiotics
  • Blood products
  • DNA
  • Microchips
  • Preservatives
  • Soy

Will the vaccine change my DNA?

No. The COVID-19 vaccines currently being used in Massachusetts are “messenger RNA (mRNA)” vaccines.

  • mRNA vaccines work by telling your body how to make a protein that helps you stay safe from the virus (this is called immunity).
  • Injecting mRNA into your body will not do anything to your DNA. Your body will break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after it has been injected.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a different type of vaccine (viral vector vaccine) and it also will not affect your DNA.

More information on how these vaccines work can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Can undocumented immigrants get the vaccine?

Yes. The vaccine is free for all Massachusetts residents, including undocumented immigrants. Health insurance (including Medicare and Medicaid) will cover the cost of the vaccine for insured patients. People who do not have insurance will not be required to pay.

Will the vaccine work against new COVID-19 variants, like the one from the United Kingdom and South Africa?

It is normal for viruses to change as they spread, and for new variants (or types) of viruses to appear. Scientists are working to learn more about the new variants— including if the vaccines we have—will protect against them.

Both the Pfizer and Modern vaccines were developed and studied before the new variants were discovered. Scientists believe that all three vaccines provide the same protection against the variant from the United Kingdom (known as B.1.1.7) as they do against the original virus.

All three vaccines are also effective against the South Africa variant (known as B.1.135) but the protection is not as strong as it is against the original virus or the United Kingdom variant.

Both Moderna and Pfizer are pursuing booster vaccines for the South Africa variant, as well as vaccines specifically targeted to this variant.

Information on vaccine efficacy for other variants of concern is not yet available.

Are the vaccination locations accessible for people with disabilities?

  • All mass vaccination locations are wheelchair accessible and do not require anyone to use stairs. Additional accessibility services depend on the location. Many of the locations have a drop off area for people who can walk a short distance.
  • Some locations may also provide mobility assistance, or you may bring someone with you to help.
  • Please review the specific mass vaccination location details to determine whether that site is a good fit for your accessibility needs. More information on mass vaccination site accessibility can be found here.
  • In cases where accessibility information is not provided, you can call the location directly with questions.

What language and interpretive services are available at mass vaccination sites?

Language translation services are available for all mass vaccination locations and many other vaccination locations.

What options are available for people who cannot use the internet to schedule an appointment?

  • Individuals who are unable to use or have difficulty accessing the internet to schedule an appointment online may use the Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line: Call 2-1-1 (877-211-6277) and follow prompts for help making an appointment. The line is available:
    • Monday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    • Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is available in English and Spanish and will have translators available to support residents in approximately 100 additional languages.
  • Individuals will be able to speak to a representative live on the phone to assist them with an appointment through the state’s online system.

What transportation options are available for MassHealth eligible individuals?

  • MassHealth is providing free transportation to vaccine appointments to any individual who has any type of MassHealth coverage or the Health Safety Net. This includes people with MassHealth Limited, Children’s Medical Security Program (CMSP) and MassHealth Family Assistance (FA), in addition to MassHealth Standard, CommonHealth and CarePlus.
  • Members can request transportation services directly through MassHealth’s Customer Service, rather than needing to request services through a healthcare provider. If an individual has MassHealth or the Health Safety Net, they (or a caregiver) can call their health plan or MassHealth directly to schedule free transportation at 800-841-2900 (TTY: 800-497-4648).
  • MassHealth members enrolled in a Senior Care Option or One Care plan, or in a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), should continue to contact their health plan or PACE program directly for transportation assistance.

Are there other transportation options for Cambridge residents?

  • Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is offering free transportation for local older adults to COVID-19 vaccination sites in Cambridge, Somerville and adjacent communities.
  • If you are an older adult (age 60 and up) from Cambridge or Somerville and you need a ride to your vaccination site, call well ahead of your appointment to schedule a ride.
  • Masks will be required during transportation.

For more information about the SCES vaccination transportation program, or to register for a ride, call SCES at 617-440-0995 or email info@eldercare.org.

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The COVID-19 Response Command Center has been working with health care providers, local officials, pharmacies and others to set up additional COVID-19 vaccination sites across the Commonwealth, with a focus on accessibility and geographic equity.

 

How To Use The Interactive Map?

Follow the steps here:
  1. Click the icon in the top left with the arrow to view a list of locations
  2. Click on a map pin for hours, contact information, and sign up details
Color Guide:
Red starMass Vaccination Sites (high volume, large venue sites)
Green starGeneral Vaccination Sites (healthcare locations)
Blue starGeneral Vaccination Sites (pharmacy/grocery locations)
Yellow starLocal Vaccination Sites (open to select cities/towns)

As of April 19, 2021, people age 16 and older who live, work, or study in Massachusetts can get vaccinated.

 

Information will be updated as we receive it, and more information from the state can be found here.

2021

When Can I Get A COVID-19 Vaccine In MA?

  • DEC
  • JAN
  • FEB

PHASE ONE

In order of priority

Group 1

  • Clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers doing direct and COVID-facing care
  • Congregate care settings (including corrections and shelters)

Group 2

  • Long term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities
  • Healthcare workers doing non-COVID-facing care

Group 3

  • First responders (EMS, Fire, Police)
  • Home-based healthcare workers
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR

PHASE TWO

In order of priority

Group 1

  • Individuals age 75+

Group 2

  • Individuals age 65+, individuals with 2+ certain medical conditions.

Group 3

  • K-12 educators, child care workers, and K-12 school staff.

Group 4

  • Residents 60+, certain workers, (Transit/transportation, grocery, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works, public health workers, food pantry workers and volunteers, and more.)

Group 5

  • Individuals 55+, individuals, with 1 certains medical condition.
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN

PHASE THREE

GENERAL PUBLIC

  • 16 years of age and older
For more information on vaccine distribution visit Mass.gov/COVIDvaccine

Updates

Latest updates related to the COVID-19 Vaccine from the City and State.

More Information

Additional information on the COVID-19 Vaccine.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an active inter-agency working group working to ensure an equitable and speedy distribution of COVID-19 vaccine to Massachusetts communities. View the latest vaccine updates in MA, including the vaccine prioritization plan, frequently asked questions, and information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and American Academy of Pediatrics, have put together additional Frequently Asked Questions about the vaccine which can be found as follows:

To help older residents get to their vaccine appointments, the State announced that individuals who accompany someone age 75 or older to get a vaccine at a mass vaccination site may also schedule and receive their own vaccination on the same day. They should go to mass.gov/covidvaccine and schedule two separate appointments at either the same time or adjacent. For the companion appointment, select the option ‘I am accompanying someone who is age 75+ to their vaccination appointment and my appointment is the same day.’ Transportation to vaccination sites is also available for elderly residents through Cambridge-Somerville Elder Services (SCES). For more information about the SCES vaccination transportation program, or to register for a ride, call SCES at 617-628-2601 or email info@eldercare.org.

Questions

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