How Do I Get the COVID Vaccine? A How-to Guide for Massachusetts

A how-to guide for getting the coronavirus vaccine in Massachusetts

In this Feb. 16, 2021, file photo, RN Rusha Prajapati reconstitutes the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at La Colaborativa in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Many people have struggled to navigate the process of getting vaccinated against the coronavirus in what has been labeled a rocky rollout of vaccines in Massachusetts.

This guide will take you through each step of the process, from figuring out when you're eligible for your first dose to what you need to bring to your appointment.

When Am I Eligible?

The state is currently vaccinating all priority groups for Phase 1 and Phase 2, which include:

  • People age 75 and older
  • People age 65 and up
  • People with two or more qualifying medical conditions
  • Low income and affordable senior housing residents & staff
  • Health care workers
  • Long-term care settings
  • First responders
  • Congregate care settings

In Phase 2, people 16 and older who have two or more qualifying medical conditions (defined below) are also eligible for vaccine. In concert with CDC guidelines, the state has adopted the list of conditions that cause individuals to be at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Massachusetts has also identified moderate to severe asthma as an eligible medical condition.

Phase 2 eligible conditions

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Learn more at CDC: COVID-19: People with Certain Medical Conditions

Divided into four groups, Phase 2 groups three and four are not yet eligible to get the vaccine. Those include early education and K-12 workers, transit, grocery, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works and public health workers Individuals with one comorbidity. Phase 2 is expected to run through March.

Phase 3, expected to start in April, is slated to include the rest of the general public.

Massachusetts Expands Vaccine Eligibility

Making an Appointment

So you've determined you're eligible. Now it's time to make an appointment.

It may take several weeks to schedule appointments because of high demand and limited supply. Vaccines are being offered at several different types of locations: mass vaccination sites, pharmacies and local vaccination sites.

Details for booking can be found via the COVID-19 Vaccine Finder, which enables residents to search for a vaccination location and view appointment availability before scheduling. The tool can be accessed via the state’s vaccination website at or directly at

Massachusetts’ COVID-19 vaccine appointment portal temporarily crashed last week as more than one million additional state residents became eligible to schedule a shot. Anyone unable to access appointments via the internet can call 211, the COVID-19 vaccination hotline, to get help scheduling an appointment.

Those people will have the option of going on a "call-back list" will be called when an appointment becomes available.

The site will start administering 500 doses a day to start, with a goal of scaling to 3,000 a day.

Mass. Vaccination Sites

There are currently five mass vaccination sites in Massachusetts, with a sixth slated to open later this week. The Natick Mall opened as the state's newest mass vaccination site Monday, joining Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park, the DoubleTree in Danvers and the Eastfield Mall in Springfield. The former Circuit City in Dartmouth is slated to open on Feb. 24.

There are currently over 170 vaccination locations across the Commonwealth. Almost 95% of the state's population lives within a 45-minute drive of a mass vaccination site or within 30 minutes of a regional, high volume site -- not counting the pharmacies, provider and community health center vaccination sites.

What You Need for Your Appointment

If you are not asked when booking, you will be asked to attest when you arrive at your appointment. Vaccination locations will likely have an attestation form available, however, you can fill out the COVID-19 Massachusetts Vaccination Attestation Form and bring it with you to your appointment to be prepared. 

People should bring a health insurance card and an ID to verify the appointment in the vaccination system. You can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine without insurance or an ID.

The vaccine requires two doses. People should schedule a second appointment from the same site, or know how to schedule it, before leaving the first appointment.

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