Here's What We Know About COVID Booster Shots in Massachusetts

The free booster shots are expected to be administered beginning Sept. 20

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Booster shots are coming, following the federal government's announcement recommending COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all Americans, regardless of age.

In a joint statement Wednesday, the directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Health and other top medical experts, outlined plans to begin administering booster shots beginning next month.

The move is being driven by both the highly contagious variant and preliminary evidence that suggests the vaccine’s protection against serious illness dropped among those vaccinated in January.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the state would move very aggressively to make sure that those who are eligible to get boosters, get them.

But how will the vaccines be administered here in Massachusetts? Here's what we know so far:

The Biden Administration is preparing to begin administering the free booster shots starting the week of September 20, assuming that the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC sign off on the safety and effectiveness of the doses by then.

You'll need to know which vaccine you received, and the date of your second shot. You'll be eligible for a third dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech shots eight months after you received your second dose.

The Biden administration is urging Americans to get booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine. The TEN takes a look at when the time is right for you to get your next shot.

Right now, the vaccine booster shot guidance applies only to those who received the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, though federal health officials said Wednesday that they anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine as well.

"Administration of the J&J vaccine did not begin in the U.S. until March 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the next few weeks," health officials said. "With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well."

Massachusetts officials have not said yet how the process will be handled locally, but it is expected to mirror the original vaccine rollout. Just like the first round of vaccinations, health care workers, nursing home residents and those who are 65 and older will be first in line.

Federal health officials are advising Americans to get third doses of COVID-19 vaccines after eight months.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said during an interview on GBH Radio Wednesday that he first learned about the booster shot announcement via media coverage and not directly from the White House.

"First time I heard about it was I got home last night and saw the news," Baker said. "So, I have no guidance, alright, even though we spent an hour on the phone yesterday with all of the people who probably knew something about what this is all about, which really bums me out."

Baker said he is an "enthusiastic supporter of a booster program" and said that once Massachusetts has more information about timing and other details, the state will "move very aggressively to make sure that those who are eligible to get boosters get them."

A Massachusetts Department of Public Health spokesperson said Wednesday that the Baker Administration is still awaiting guidance from the federal government and anyone with questions about boosters should contact their health care provider.

This time around, mass vaccination sites like Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park may not be available since live sports and concerts are back to occupy those venues. So other local sites, like the Marshfield Fairgrounds, will have to step up.

Marshfield Town Administrator Michael Maresco said conversations about reactivating his community's mass vaccination site began about two weeks ago.

"We're 100% ready," he said. "When people say go, we're ready to go. I think there's going to be a big need, especially with Gillette not being available, Fenway not available and the convention center not likely. It's going to put the pressure on the regional sites."

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