Vaccine FAQs

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines and when they might be available to you.  

You can learn more about how the state is distributing the COVID-19 vaccines by visiting

We will continue to update this page as we learn more about COVID-19 vaccines. Let’s fight COVID-19 together.

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Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines

All MA residents over the age of 12 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. To find a vaccine appointment near you, visit The goal is for everyone who wants it to eventually get the COVID-19 vaccine. But please note that the availability of vaccine appointments may vary based on your area and vaccine supply. 

Steps to book an appointment:

  1. Visit to select a location and schedule an appointment online. If you have trouble scheduling your appointment online, call 2-1-1 for assistance.
  2. Have your important information with you, such as your insurance card.
  3. Fill out the self-attestation form, which may need to be presented at your appointment.

If you don't know what vaccine phase you are in you can visit and complete their eligibility form to find out. 

The mass vaccination locations in Massachusetts include:

  • Gillette Stadium
  • Hynes Convention Center
  • Reggie Lewis Center
  • Danvers DoubleTree Hotel
  • Natick Mall
  • Eastfield Mall, Springfield
  • Former Circuit City, Dartmouth

Click here to see other appointments near you

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine is being administered free of charge to all individuals. You will not have any out-of-pocket fees or copayments.

You may be asked to provide insurance information by those administering the vaccine in order to bill-back to insurance. However, you will not be charged. Those without insurance are still eligible to receive the vaccine free of charge.

MassHealth is providing free transportation to vaccine appointments to any individual that has any type of MassHealth coverage or the Health Safety Net. Members can request transportation services directly through MassHealth’s Customer Service, rather than needing to request services through a health care provider. To schedule free transportation call 800-841-2900 (TTY: 800-497-4648). Visit the MassHealth webpage for more information on transportation and the COVID-19 vaccines.

How does the vaccine work?

A vaccine is a substance that can help protect you against specific diseases. Vaccines cause your immune system to make antibodies, which fight viruses and bacteria. If you get exposed to a disease you’ve been vaccinated against, the antibodies will fight the disease-causing bacteria or viruses before they make you sick. For more information on vaccines, visit the Centers for Disease Control.

As of December 2020, there are two approved vaccines from the companies Pfizer and Moderna. These vaccines do not contain the virus that causes COVID-19 and you will not contract the virus from taking these vaccines.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines. They work by telling our bodies to make a protein that then produces antibodies. These antibodies help protect you from the virus that causes COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines are very effective (about 95 percent) in preventing COVID-19. While they helped prevent COVID-19 generally, they are additionally good at preventing severe cases of the disease.

It’s important that you get both shots of the two-dose vaccines. If you don’t, you won’t be as well-protected from COVID-19 as you could be.

However, it’s very important to keep wearing a mask and distancing even after you are vaccinated because:

  • While we know that the vaccines help keep the person vaccinated safe from becoming ill, we do not know yet if they prevent that person from still passing the virus on to others. Some vaccines for other diseases prevent spread to others, while others don’t and only protect the person vaccinated. We do not know how this will turn out for the new COVID vaccines yet.
  • Not everyone will get the vaccine at once. Following public health guidelines will help protect anyone who hasn’t gotten the vaccine yet.
  • Although it’s not likely, it’s still possible to get COVID-19 after getting the vaccine, as no vaccine is 100 percent effective.
  • Because COVID-19 vaccines are so new, we don’t know yet how long the vaccine will protect you from getting COVID-19.

The vaccine will be given as a shot in the upper arm. The vaccines that are available require two doses.

For the Pfizer vaccine, the second shot will be three weeks after the first. For the Moderna vaccine, it will be four weeks after the first shot.

It’s important that you get both shots. If you don’t, you won’t be as well-protected from COVID-19 as you could be.
The State of Massachusetts could eventually make getting the vaccine required for certain activities, such as going back to work or going to public school – much like other vaccines are. However, we don’t know of any current plans to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory, and the Biden administration has said that they do not plan to make the vaccine mandatory throughout the U.S.
Because COVID-19 vaccines are so new, we don’t know how long protection will last just yet. The studies that are going on now will help to answer that question. You may have to get vaccinated again in the future.

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same trials as other approved vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccines have met the high safety standards these trials set.

The clinical trial process for COVID-19 vaccines was much quicker than for other vaccines, but it was done just as carefully. More than 70,000 people took the different COVID-19 vaccines as part of clinical trials. In addition, the clinical trials included 10 percent Black and 13 percent Hispanic/Latinx participants, which means vaccine safety was tested within a diverse group. There were no major safety concerns in any of the trials.

Vaccines were approved under emergency authorization because of how serious the pandemic is. But the safety standards for emergency authorization are close to the same as the ones vaccines have to meet for regular authorization. To learn more more about the currently approved or recommend vaccines please visit

Expert groups will also keep looking at the COVID-19 vaccine’s safety after people start to take it.

Some people have reported side effects. However, these have generally been mild, and are a sign the immune system is working. Reported side effects include headaches, fatigue, chills, fever and soreness at the injection site.

For some people, these side effects were worse after the second dose.

Side effects from a vaccine usually go away on their own within a few days and are time-limited.

If your side effects last more than 48 hours, contact your PCP as soon as possible.

No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The vaccine doesn’t actually contain the virus that causes COVID-19.
No. The current vaccines do not contain the virus that causes COVID-19, which means the vaccine itself won’t cause you to spread COVID-19.

While we know the COVID-19 vaccines can prevent severe COVID-19 infections, we do not yet know how effective the vaccines are in preventing asymptomatic infection to others, which is when you are infected with COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms. It may be possible to still spread COVID-19 after getting a vaccine, so it is still incredibly important to wear masks and keep distances between people.

As people start to get the vaccines, researchers will be looking at how well they prevent asymptomatic infection.

No. The cells that use the mRNA vaccine get rid of the mRNA after they finish using it. The mRNA never gets into the part of the cell where DNA is located.

Should I get the vaccine?

Yes. Experts recommend getting the vaccine even if you already had COVID-19 more than 90 days (about three months) ago. If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 90 days, please wait until the 90 days is over before receiving the vaccine.

Although there is currently no data specifically on COVID-19 vaccine safety in pregnant and breastfeeding people, there is very low concern for safety issues, based on experience with other vaccines and the science of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Therefore, based on guidance by the FDA and the CDC, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may choose to have the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please talk to your doctor about potential risks and benefits. We have seen that pregnant people are at increased risk for severe COVID-19, which means that the benefits may outweigh the risks for many.

As the vaccine is given to more people, researchers are looking at the benefits and potential risks for pregnant and breastfeeding people.

There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects fertility. In the safety data from the Pfizer trial, the same proportion of people got pregnant in the vaccine group as the placebo group. Based on this, the vaccine is recommended even if you are planning to get pregnant soon. More information about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy or breastfeeding is available at

The FDA recommends that people who have severe allergies to any ingredient in the Pfizer vaccine do not get this vaccine. In addition, they recommend that you should not get the second dose if you have a severe allergic reaction to the first dose. Everyone who gets the vaccine will be watched for 15 minutes after the injection to make sure they do not have any signs of an allergic reaction. People who have severe allergies to other vaccines or injectable medications will be watched for 30 minutes.

The vaccine does not contain any food products - including eggs - or metals.

Once you are able to get the vaccine, talk to your allergist or PCP if you have concerns.

People with certain health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, were included in the vaccine studies. Therefore, we have evidence the vaccine is safe for people with these conditions. However, people who are immunosuppressed were not part of the trials.

When the FDA approves vaccines, they'll also give recommendations about who should or shouldn't get each vaccine. If you have concerns about whether or not you should get a COVID-19 vaccine when you're able to, talk to your doctor.

The FDA approved the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine for anyone 12 years of age or older. When they approve other vaccines, they'll give a recommended minimum age for each.

COVID-19 vaccines haven’t been studied in younger children. These studies are now being planned.

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