What is a vaccine?
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.
How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
There are three different vaccines available. Of those, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both 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.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine instead uses a virus vector, different from the COVID-19 virus, that cannot replicate in the human body. The virus vector delivers a protein code that tells your immune system to make antibodies, which then protect you from COVID-19.
When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
All people six months of age and older in Massachusetts are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
No appointment is needed to get your vaccine at BMC. However, if you prefer, you can schedule your vaccine at one of these sites via this link. Some BMC clinics are also giving COVID-19 vaccines, if you prefer to get vaccinated by your doctor.
You can also get the vaccine at a state vaccination site, a local community site, or a site such as CVS or Walgreens; you can find more details here.
Is the vaccine free?
The COVID-19 vaccine is free for all BMC patients. If you have medical insurance, we will bill your insurance carrier. If you do not have insurance, you will not receive a bill for your vaccine.
Is the vaccine mandatory? What about for children?
Boston Medical Center Health System firmly believes in the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, and we are pleased that the vast majority our employees have already have been vaccinated. Based on the evidence, and our obligation as a health care system to safeguard the health of our patients, members and staff, BMC Health System has required that all employees, licensed independent practitioners, students, vendors, and volunteers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Other employers, as well as Massachusetts, could eventually make getting the vaccine required for certain activities, such as going back to work or going to public school.
Some schools may choose to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for children in their district, much like other vaccines are. Many colleges are also choosing to make COVID-19 vaccination required for students to attend. Please contact your child’s school directly for more information about whether or not COVID-19 vaccination might be required.
Is BMC giving all available COVID-19 vaccines? Can I choose which I get?
We anticipate that BMC will continue to have supply of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and will be providing all three to patients and staff. All three are being distributed across the state of MA and the country.
Some important things to keep in mind about the three vaccines:
- All of the available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective and safe, and have been through a strict clinical review.
- All available COVID-19 vaccines are very effective in preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death related to COVID-19. You will not be able to choose which you receive; which one you get will depend on our supply of each at the time.
- If you get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, your second dose must be the same type of vaccine you got in the first dose. You cannot get a Pfizer vaccine for the first dose and Moderna for the second or vice versa. Only one dose is needed for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
While there are differences between the currently available vaccines, the best vaccine to take is the one that is available to you first. Some of those differences include:
||Type of Vaccine
||Efficacy Against Hospitalization and Death (in clinical trials)
||Number of Doses Required
||Ages Approved For
||Two doses, 8 weeks apart (three weeks for immunocompromised people)
||6 months and older
||Two doses, 8 weeks apart (four weeks for immunocompromised people)
||6 months and older
|Johnson & Johnson
||18 and older
What is the new vaccine booster that came out in September 2022? Should I get it?
In September 2022, the FDA and CDC approved a new type of COVID-19 vaccine booster called a bivalent booster. This booster targets the two latest Omicron COVID-19 strains – BA.4 and BA.5 – as well as the original COVID-19 virus strain.
As of October 2022, the bivalent booster is approved for everyone ages five and older.
You should get a bivalent booster even if you already had a COVID-19 booster dose. This is because any booster given before September 2022 didn’t include specific protection against Omicron variants.
You should also get the new booster even if you got more than one COVID-19 vaccine booster dose before, or if you are immunocompromised and had a third dose of the vaccine.
You are eligible for the bivalent booster if you:
- Are over the age of five
- Got a series of two Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or one Johnson & Johnson vaccine
- Had your last dose of COVID-19 vaccine (first, second, or booster dose) at least two months ago.
Do you need to be a U.S. citizen to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Anyone who lives in Massachusetts, regardless of immigration status, can receive a COVID-19 vaccination at a site in the state. You do not need to provide an ID or Social Security number to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not have any negative impact on your chances of getting a green card.
How are COVID vaccines given?
The vaccines are given as a shot in the upper arm.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two doses. As of March 2022, the recommended time period between the first and second dose for both vaccines is eight weeks, unless you are immunocompromised. If you are immunocompromised, the time between vaccines should be three weeks for the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for the Moderna vaccine. 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.
Only one dose is needed for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
What does the full FDA approval mean?
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was given full approval by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for people aged 16 and over, while the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was given full approval for people aged 18 and over.
This means that the vaccines are no longer being given under emergency use authorization for people in this age group.
The Pfizer vaccine is still being given under an emergency use authorization (EUA) for people up to age 15, and the Moderna vaccine is being given to people 17 years old or younger under an EUA. These vaccines have already been safely given to millions of people in these age groups, and was safely given to millions of adults under an EUA.
Where can I find information from the FDA?
A fact sheet from the FDA can be found here, and is available in 20 additional languages on the FDA website.
Does the vaccine keep me from getting COVID-19?
All approved COVID-19 vaccines are very effective in preventing COVID-19. While they helped prevent COVID-19 generally, they were particularly good at preventing severe cases of the disease. And in clinical trials, they all were 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death related to COVID-19.
However, it’s important to keep wearing a mask and distancing because:
- 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.
- We’re not sure yet how long the vaccine will protect you from getting COVID-19.
How long does protection from COVID vaccines last?
We don’t know how long protection will last. The studies that are going on now will help to answer that question. You may have to get vaccinated again in the future.
Does the booster shot being recommended mean that I'm not protected against COVID-19 if I don't get another dose?
No, two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are still very good at protecting you from COVID-19, especially severe cases, hospitalization, and death due to the virus.
But for some people, the vaccine’s protection may decrease over time, and new strains of COVID can make the vaccines less effective for everyone. Therefore, we strongly encourage that everyone eligible get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
How well do the vaccines protect against new COVID-19 variants?
The current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to provide at least some protection against new virus variants because they work by prompting your immune system to respond broadly to the virus. We have also seen that they help to prevent severe illness in people infected by newer variants, like Omicron.
As we learn more, scientists are studying ways to make the vaccines more effective against COVID-19 variants if necessary, including booster shots, new vaccines that target multiple variants, and building on the mRNA platform used by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to make them more effective.
Are COVID vaccines safe?
Yes. The vaccines were studied carefully and have been given to hundreds of millions of people around the world. This has shown that the vaccines are safe.
Expert groups are also continuing to look at the COVID-19 vaccine’s safety now that we have more data.
What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?
Many people do report side effects. However, these are generally been mild, and are a sign the immune system is working. Reported side effects include headaches, fatigue, chills, and soreness at the injection site. Some people may have a fever. Side effects in children are very similar to side effects in adults.
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. You can take an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to manage side effects after the vaccine. However, it is recommended that you avoid taking these medications right before getting your vaccine, unless they have been prescribed to you.
If your side effects last more than 48 hours, speak to your doctor.
Have there been any serious adverse events after these vaccines?
There have been a small number of reports of severe stroke-like illness associated with low-platelet count after the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. This reaction is extremely rare and has been investigated by the CDC and FDA, who then lifted the pause they had put in place on this vaccine.
In July 2021, the FDA added a warning to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine about a potential increased risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a type of neurological disorder. A very small number of cases have been reported, and the benefits continue to outweigh the risks of getting the J&J vaccine.
Cases of Bell's Palsy were reported in participants of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials but occurred at a rate lower than is seen in the general population and developed several weeks after vaccination. There is no evidence that these cases of Bell's Palsy were caused by vaccination.
A small number of severe allergic reactions have been reported after vaccination with both Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines and are being investigated. All reactions responded to treatment, and every vaccine site will monitor people for signs of an allergic reaction after vaccination.
Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The vaccine doesn’t actually contain the virus that causes COVID-19.
Can I spread COVID from the vaccine?
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.
Will the vaccine stay in my body or enter my DNA?
No. None of the vaccines enter or change your DNA, or stay in your body.
Does the vaccine affect fertility?
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. In addition, many, many people have gotten safely pregnant after getting vaccinated, including in the clinical trials. Therefore, the vaccine is recommended even if you are planning to get pregnant soon.
How can I know this is safe for children if so few children were involved in the clinical trials?
Together, Pfizer and Moderna enrolled over 10,000 children under five years old in the clinical trials, and no serious side effects were reported. Side effects were similar to what older children and adults have, and there were no allergic reactions or other serious reactions.
The CDC and FDA take safety of vaccines very seriously, especially for children. In fact, the reason it took so much longer for vaccines to be approved for children under five years old is that the FDA and CDC took their time to make sure Pfizer and Moderna did thorough research and get the doses just right.
While clinical trials were recently completed for children under the age of five, we do have a lot of data for children ages 5-17 years old. As of June 2022:
- 27.4 million children ages 5-17 years old have gotten as least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
- 23.1 million children ages 5-17 years old have gotten both doses.
- 3.8 million children ages 12-16 years old have gotten a booster dose.
I recently got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Should I be worried?
Right now, it looks like these specific types of blood clots are an extremely rare reaction. Nearly 9 million people have gotten the vaccine, and fewer than 30 adverse events of this type have been reported. BMC continues to strongly encourage all patients and community members to get vaccinated with whichever vaccine is available to them.
However, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you have any serious side effects. If you or a loved one received a J&J vaccine within the last three weeks and have any of the following symptoms, please contact your health care provider or go to the nearest emergency room:
- Severe headache
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Leg pain
- Shortness of breath
Please note, these are not the same flu-like symptoms, including chills and fatigue, or arm pain that may happen within 48 hours after the vaccine.
The reported adverse events all happened within three weeks of the individual receiving the J&J vaccine. Beyond that time, the risk of this type of clot appears to be extremely unlikely.
Do the COVID-19 vaccines work in Black and Latinx individuals?
In clinical trials included 10-19 percent percent Black and 15-45 percent Hispanic/Latinx participants (depending on the study), which means vaccine safety was tested within a diverse group. Data from clinical trials showed that the vaccine has similar success rates in white, Black, and Latinx people.
Research is still being done on real world data for this question.
Communities of color have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. That means it's even more important for people in these communities to get vaccinated.
Should I get the vaccine if I had COVID-19 already?
Yes. Experts recommend getting the vaccine even if you already had COVID-19, because we don't know how long having COVID-19 protects you from getting it again. As long as you're not currently in isolation with COVID-19 and no longer have symptoms, you can get the vaccine.
Can pregnant or breastfeeding people get the vaccine?
Yes, data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant people show that the vaccines are safe and effective for this population. In addition, we have seen that pregnant people are at increased risk for severe COVID, which means that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks for many. Therefore, the CDC and many professional medical groups recommend that people who are pregnant and breastfeeding get the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Should I get the vaccine if I have allergies?
The FDA recommends that people who have severe allergies to any ingredient in the vaccines 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 if you have concerns.
Can you get other vaccines at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine (first, second, third, or booster dose) at the same time as other vaccines. This includes the flu shot for people of all ages and routine vaccines for children.
I'm immunocompromised. Should I get another dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently recommended that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and have already had two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine receive a third COVID-19 vaccination. You may have also heard this called a booster shot.
Your third dose should be the same type of vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) that you got for your first two doses. Another shot is not currently recommended for people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as there is not enough evidence yet.
Another vaccine dose is recommended for people who are immunocompromised because they are more likely to get very sick or be sick for a long time if they get COVID-19. In addition, you may not get the same protection from two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as other people do, and a third dose may help you stay healthy.
If you are moderately to severely immunocompromised, including people who have any of the following conditions, you are now able to get a third COVID-19 vaccination dose:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
Eligible patients have now received more information from BMC. Please reach out to your care team if you have any questions.
Should I get a booster dose of the vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines for everyone over five years old.
Everyone over the age of five years old should get the bivalent booster dose (new as of October 2022), even if they already had a vaccine booster.
You should get a booster dose two (2) months or more after your last vaccination, whether it was a first, second, or booster dose.
If you’re eligible for a booster, you’ll be able to choose which vaccine you get, under CDC recommendations that allow for mixing and matching vaccine types of booster shots.
Should I get a booster even if I’ve already had a COVID-19 infection?
Yes. The bivalent booster will increase your immune protection against COVID-19, strengthening the protection you get from being infected with COVID-19.
You can get the vaccine booster as long as you're not currently in isolation with COVID-19 and have recovered. However, some people might choose to wait two months after their infection, which is the length of time recommended between your last dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and a bivalent booster.
Should I get the vaccine if I have sickle cell disease?
The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America recommends that people with sickle cell disease receive COVID-19 vaccination at this time.
People with sickle cell disease who get COVID-19 may have increased rates of disease complications, hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and death. Given the high efficacy and safety reported in the vaccine trials, we believe that the benefit of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine greatly outweighs the risk.
Do the vaccines work in older adults?
Older adults are more likely to develop serious illness or be hospitalized with COVID-19. Therefore, it's important to protect yourself as best you can against COVID-19. This includes getting vaccinated and getting at least one booster dose of the vaccine.
The vaccines work well in older adults.
According to the CDC, the effectiveness of two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the J&J vaccine for adults 75 years old and older was 91 percent for Pfizer, 96 percent for Moderna, and 85 percent for J&J.
Older adults may also have fewer side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine than younger people.
Do I need to wait to get vaccinated after I get treated for COVID-19?
If you receive a monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19, you must wait 90 days after your treatment ends to get your first vaccination.
If you get monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 prevention, including after an exposure to COVID-19, you must wait 30 days after your treatment ends to get vaccinated.
Should I delay my COVID-19 vaccine if I am scheduled for surgery?
No, you don’t need to wait until after your surgery to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
However, you should avoid getting your COVID-19 vaccine within a few days of when your surgery is scheduled. It’s not dangerous to get vaccinated right before your surgery, but you may have side effects, like a fever, that could lead your doctor to delay your surgery. For most people, side effects go away within a few days, so it’s best to have about five days between being vaccinated for COVID-19 and your surgery.
My health condition or situation isn’t addressed here. How do I know if the vaccine is safe for me?
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.
What should I do if I have side effects?
Many people who have been vaccinated have reported side effects. For some people, these side effects were worse after the second dose. Most side effects are mild and go away within 48 hours.
If you have mild side effects that develop within 48 hours, such as feeling feverish but with a temperature below 101 F, injection site pain, chills, mild fatigue, mild muscle aches, or minor headaches, you do not need to stay home. You may use an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to treat these symptoms.
If you have a fever above 101 F, severe muscle pain, or severe headaches, please stay home and call your primary care provider.
If you get an itchy rash that’s just around the spot you got your injection, you can treat it with 1% hydrocortisone cream (available over-the-counter) once or twice a day until it goes away.
How long does it take to build immunity after you get vaccinated?
You will have some protection as soon as 12 days after your first dose of vaccine. A person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination or the one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Can I still spread COVID-19 after I get the vaccine, even if I don’t get sick?
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, 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 important to wear masks and keep distances between people.
Researchers are studying how well the vaccines prevent asymptomatic infection but the information is not available yet.
Can I stop wearing a mask and taking other precautions after I'm vaccinated?
Masks are no longer required in most public indoor spaces in Boston, including on public transportation. They are still required in most health care settings, including at Boston Medical Center.
However, continuing to follow all other current guidance - even if you've received a booster dose - will help you protect yourself and others from COVID-19. This includes:
- Wearing a mask in public when required, and if you feel more comfortable doing so.
- Avoiding crowds.
- Washing your hands often.
- Getting tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19, or are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- Staying at least six feet away from others.
Can I visit older family members after they have been vaccinated, but before I have been vaccinated?
According to Centers for Disease Control guidelines for vaccinated individuals, visits between fully vaccinated people and unvaccinated people are low risk for the people who have been vaccinated. Therefore, as long as you are at low risk for severe COVID-19, it would likely be safe for you to visit people who have been vaccinated.
If some members of my household are vaccinated and others are not, is it safe to return to our normal life?
When deciding what activities are safe for your household to return to, the most important thing to keep in mind is the risk level of the people in the household you are not vaccinated. If the people who are not vaccinated are at higher risk of severe COVID-19, you should continue to follow all public health guidelines, including wearing masks when near people in other households and maintaining physical distance.
Keep in mind:
- When unvaccinated people from multiple households gather, there is a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission. All people involved in gathers like this should wear masks, stay at least six feet from others, and visit outdoors or in a well-ventilated space.
- Everyone is encouraged to avoid medium or large gatherings, especially indoor gatherings.
- Vaccinated people should continue to wear masks and follow all other public health guidelines when outside the home.
What happens if you get COVID-19 after your first dose of an mRNA vaccine?
You may want to delay your second dose of an mRNA vaccine if you develop COVID-19 between your first and second dose. The optimal length of this delay is not known. At a minimum, you should not get the second dose until the date the second dose is due and until you are recovered completely from COVID-19.
Should toddlers and younger children get the COVID-19 vaccine? I heard they don’t get COVID-19.
Yes, for most people over six months old, getting the COVID vaccine as soon as possible is the safest choice, as part of doing everything we can to protect our kids.
Millions of children across the country have gotten COVID-19 during the pandemic. COVID-19 in children looks a lot like COVID-19 in adults and can cause serious, long-lasting problems like extreme tiredness or fatigue, “brain fog,” a cough that won’t go away, and even heart problems. Getting vaccinated makes it less likely that anyone, of any age, will get these problems.
If your child gets vaccinated, it makes passing on the virus less likely. This can help keep others you care about, like grandparents, healthy too.
It seems clear that COVID-19 will be with us for a long time (many months, if not years). That’s why it’s important for children – and their families – to have as much protection as possible against COVID-19 and the problems it causes.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine for children?
COVID-19 vaccine side effects for children and teenagers are a lot like the side effects for adults. These side effects are usually mild and go away within a few days. They are also more common after the second vaccine dose. Some people may not have any side effects. A small number may have serious side effects, but these cases are very rare.
Common side effects for children age four and up:
- Pain, redness, or swelling around where the shot was given
- Muscle or joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes (you may feel a lump under the armpit)
Common side effects for children age three and younger:
- Pain or redness where the shot was given
- Irritability (bad mood) or crying
- Swollen lymph nodes (you may feel a lump under the armpit)
- Loss of appetite
How do we know that the vaccines won’t have negative long-term effects for children?
The world has had many vaccines over time. For all of those vaccines, it is rare to see side effects come up more than four to six weeks after someone gets vaccinated. This is true in both children and adults.
For COVID-19 vaccines, we have a lot of data for adults and older children and to date, none of this data shows any side effects that come up more than a few days after getting the vaccines.
These vaccine types are not new technology either! Both mRNA vaccines (used to create Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) and viral vector vaccines (used to create the Johnson & Johnson vaccines) have been studied and used for decades. There have been no side effects that occur after four to six weeks described among people who have received these vaccine types.
Does the vaccine cause heart issues, like myocarditis, in children?
Myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle) is a very rare side effect for teenagers and young adults who get the mRNA (Moderna or Pfizer) vaccines. Males ages 12-17 are more likely than other people to get myocarditis, but it is still very rare in this age group. No children under age five had myocarditis or any other heart issues in the clinical trials.
Most cases of myocarditis that were seen were mild and went away within a few days, either on their own or with ibuprofen.
Cardiac side effects of COVID-19 infection, including myocarditis, are much more common than cardiac side effects from the vaccine, even in children. In addition, myocarditis from COVID-19 infections are usually worse than if they’re caused by the vaccine.
Do kids need a COVID-19 vaccine booster?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone over the age of five get at least one booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
You should get a bivalent booster dose two (2) months or more after your last vaccination, whether it was a first, second, or booster dose.
Is the children’s COVID-19 vaccine the same as the vaccine for adults?
Children of different ages get different, age-adjusted doses of the COVID-19 vaccine:
- Ages 12 and up: Anyone over the age of 12 years old gets the same dose as adults. Research shows this approach is both safe and effective for this age group.
- Ages 5-11: Children ages 5-11 who get the Pfizer vaccine will get one-third of the dose given to people over 12 years old. Children ages 6-11 years old who get the Moderna vaccine will get one-half of the dose given to people over 12 years old. These adjusted doses were found to work as well in children as a full dose does in adults.
- Under age 5: Children under age five who get the Pfizer vaccine will get three vaccine doses, each of which will be one-tenth of the strength of the dose given to people ages 12 and up. Children under age six who get the Moderna vaccine will get two shots, each with one-fourth of the dose given to adults. These doses were found to work as well in children as a full dose in adults.
Can children get the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day?
Yes, children can get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as any other vaccine. Talk to child’s doctor if you have any questions.
If my child will turn 12 years old soon, should they wait and get the higher dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?
No. Researchers studied this question during clinical trials and found that the lower dose of the vaccine works as well in children as a higher dose does in young adults. Therefore, your child should get vaccinated as soon as possible instead of waiting until they turn 12 years old.
If your child turns 12 between the first and second dose, they should get the lower dose for the first dose and the higher dose for a second dose.
What should I do if I have questions while scheduling my appointment?
Is there parking at each vaccine site?
There is limited parking at each vaccine site. See parking lot information for each site here.
Are the vaccine sites accessible by public transportation?
All vaccination sites are within half a mile of a public transportation stop (bus, commuter rail, or T).
How do I book a second appointment?
You'll book an appointment for your second vaccine dose while you’re at your first appointment. The second appointment will be either 21 or 28 days after the first, depending on which vaccine you get.