State health officials released new information this week on who's eligible for booster shots in Massachusetts and how to get the shot.
Here's everything you need to know:
Who is eligible to get a booster?
Individuals who are immunocompromised due to particular health conditions have been eligible for a booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine since Aug. 13.
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The following individuals are now eligible for a booster dose of Pfizer six months after their second shot:
- People 65 years and older
- Residents of long term care settings
- People aged 50 to 64 years with underlying medical conditions
- People aged 18 to 49 years with underlying medical conditions
- People aged 18 to 64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their occupational or institutional setting
Find out when you are eligible for a COVID-19 booster
Massachusetts has set up a COVID-19 booster eligibility checker where you can enter the vaccine you received and check to see if you are eligible for a booster.
You can access the tool by clicking here.
When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster if I am not in one of the recommended groups?
Additional populations may be recommended to receive a booster shot as more data becomes available. The COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized in the United States continue to be effective at reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. However, the virus that causes COVID-19 constantly evolves. Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well the vaccines are working for different populations. This includes looking at how new variants, like delta, affect vaccine effectiveness.
What should people who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson's vaccine do?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and CDC’s recommendations are bound by what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authorization allows. At this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech booster authorization only applies to people whose primary series was Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. People in the recommended groups who got the Moderna or J&J/Janssen vaccine will likely need a booster shot. More data on the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and J&J/Janssen booster shots are expected in the coming weeks.
Do I need to get the same brand of vaccine for my booster?
Yes. People who are immunocompromised and received either Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago can get a booster dose of the same vaccine. Other individuals listed above who received Pfizer vaccine are now eligible to receive a booster dose of Pfizer.
If I got the J&J vaccine, can I get a booster?
Not at this time. Currently, the federal government has not released guidance regarding boosters for individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.
What if I don't know when I received my last COVID-19 vaccine shot?
To learn when you are eligible for a booster dose, you should consult your CDC vaccination record card for the date of your second COVID-19 vaccination. If you do not have your vaccination card, contact your primary care provider or the retail pharmacy where you were first vaccinated. If that is not possible, learn how to obtain your vaccination record, which could take up to two weeks, by visiting www.mass.gov/myvaxrecord.
How do I get a booster?
There are over 500 locations for residents to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot.
In order to find a convenient location for getting a Pfizer COVID-19 Booster:
- Visit the VaxFinder tool at vaxfinder.mass.gov for a full list of hundreds of locations to receive a booster. Residents will be able to narrow results to search for locations that are offering boosters. Some appointments are available now for booking boosters for eligible residents. Additional appointments are expected to come online in the coming days.
- If you are unable to use VaxFinder, or have difficulty accessing the internet, please contact the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line (Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) by calling 211 and following the prompts. The COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line is available in English and Spanish and has translators available to in approximately 100 additional languages.
Do I need to show my vaccine card or other proof of being fully vaccinated to get my booster?
If you have your vaccine card it is helpful so that your booster dose can be added to it, but you do not need to show your CDC vaccination card to get your booster. You will be asked to self-attest that you meet eligibility requirements such as age, health conditions, or occupation. There are no ID, insurance, or state registry requirements. Your vaccinator may choose to look up your vaccine records to confirm the right type of vaccine for your booster.
I got vaccinated at a MassVax site; where do I go to get my booster dose?
You can get a booster shot anywhere they are available including your primary care provider, a retail pharmacy or, a community vaccination clinic. Or you can use VaxFinder to find a location.
Can I just walk in or do I need to book an appointment?
Walk-ins and appointments will be available at retail pharmacies, however, residents are encouraged to book an appointment via VaxFinder or directly with their provider.
Can I book an appointment by calling 211?
Yes. Individuals without access to the internet or who are unable to schedule their appointment online can call the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line toll free 211 or (877) 211-6277 for assistance with setting up an appointment.
Can I get my booster vaccine at home?
Yes. If you have trouble getting to a vaccine clinic, you can use the In-Home Vaccination Program. Visit http://mass.gov/vaccinesathome for more information.
Should people expect to get sick after the third dose?
Current data indicates that side effects following the additional dose are similar to those after the second dose. Common side effects are generally mild such as localized pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, and fatigue, headache, and low-grade fever. Serious adverse events are rare.
Can I get a flu vaccination at the same time as my COVID-19 booster?
Yes. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccinations like a flu or shingles vaccine at the same time or close together, according to the CDC.