- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions
ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINES
WHAT VACCINES ARE AVAILABLE FOR COVID-19?
Pfizer Inc./BioNTech (trade name Comirnaty) received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on August 23, 2021, as a two-dose series of its COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 16 years of age and older.
The Pfizer vaccine is also authorized under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to be administered to:
- Individuals 5 through 15 years (as a two-dose series), and
- Provide a third dose to certain immunocompromised individuals 12 and older
Moderna (trade name Spikevax) received full approval from the FDA on January 31, 2022 as a two-dose series for individuals 18 years and older. It is also authorized to be administered to provide a third dose to certain immunocompromised individuals 18 years and older.
Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine received EUA approval in late February 2021. This COVID-19 vaccine is a one-dose series for individuals 18 years and older.
The following information represents a compilation of FDA and CDC approvals for eligibility for vaccines and boosters by age.
COVID-19 Vaccination and Booster Recommendations by Age
|Age||Which shot to get||Primary Series||Booster Dose|
2 doses spaced
21 days apart
(3rd dose if
at this time
|12 - 17||Pfizer/BioNTech||
2 doses spaced
21 days apart
(3rd dose if
|5 months after
of primary series
Johnson & Johnson
2-dose series of an mRNA
(additional dose if
(Johnson & Johnson)
(additional dose if
|5 months after
primary series (mRNA)
2 months after
(Johnson & Johnson)
As of March 30th, people who are 50 years of older and/or immunocompromised may receive an additional COVID-19 booster 4 months after their last vaccine.
For additional information about COVID-19 vaccines please visit the CDC website.
DOES THE VACCINE PROTECT AGAINST THE NEW COVID-19 VARIANTS?
Research shows that the approved vaccines provide good protection against severe infection and hospitalization against variants like Omicron and Delta. Protection against infection is somewhat decreased, but the “breakthrough” infections are generally mild among vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated people. The good news is that in the same way that the flu vaccine is adjusted each year to work against the dominant strain of flu, COVID-19 vaccine boosters or annual vaccines could be modified to work against the dominant strains.
SHOULD I GET THE SAME VACCINE IF IT REQUIRES TWO DOSES?
Yes. You should get the same brand vaccine for both doses of your primary vaccine series.
WHEN WILL I HAVE THE FULL IMMUNITY FROM THE VACCINE?
People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
CAN THE VACCINE GIVE ME COVID-19?
No. None of the vaccines contain a live virus, so the vaccine cannot give you COVID-19.
WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS IN THE VACCINES?
The Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines have fact sheets that list the ingredients of each vaccine. Those fact sheets can be found at:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine EUA Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers (fda.gov) (page 2)
- Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine EUA Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers (fda.gov) (page 2)
- Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine UEA Fast Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers (fda.gov) (page 2)
WHERE CAN I GET VACCINATED?
There are also many community-based options to get vaccinated, both by appointment and on a walk-in basis without an appointment. Use the websites below to find a convenient location near you.
ADDITIONAL AND BOOSTER DOSE AVAILABILITY
HOW CAN I RECEIVE MY COVID-19 VACCINE AT ATRIUS HEALTH?
Atrius Health is offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments at our practices. Please use Myhealth to schedule an appointment or call your doctor’s office.
For individuals who are unable to use Vaxfinder or have difficulty accessing the internet, you can call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line (Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM) by dialing 2-1-1 and following the prompts for assistance. The COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line is available in English and Spanish and has translators available in approximately 100 additional languages.
WHAT's THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BOOSTER DOSE AND AN ADDITIONAL DOSE?
People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised sometimes do not build enough (or any) protection when they first get a vaccination. When this happens, getting another dose of the vaccine can help them build more protection against the disease. This appears to be the case for some immunocompromised people and COVID-19 vaccines. CDC recommends moderately to severely immunocompromised people consider receiving an additional (third) dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least 28 days after the completion of the initial 2-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series.
In contrast, a “booster dose” refers to another dose of a vaccine that is given to someone who built enough protection after vaccination, but then that protection decreased over time (this is called waning immunity).
SHOULD I GET THE VACCINE IF I HAVE A WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM?
If you have a medical condition or take certain medications that weaken your ability to fight infections, you may have more severe disease than other people if you get COVID-19. If you have a weakened immune system, you are recommended to get the vaccine and should ensure that family and friends around you are vaccinated. Please note that you should continue taking precautions, including social distancing, hand hygiene, and wearing a mask after vaccination in certain settings due to the potential for decreased immune response to the vaccine.
FERTILITY, PREGNANCY & BREASTFEEDING
SHOULD I GET THE VACCINE IF I AM HOPING TO BECOME PREGNANT SOON?
The vaccine does not affect fertility. It may be helpful to get the vaccine before you are pregnant to minimize getting COVID-19 while pregnant.
CAN I GET THE VACCINE IF I AM PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING?
The CDC, along with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the Society of Maternal Fetal Monitoring (SMFM), strongly recommend the vaccine for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant.
Data has shown that COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone, including the mother or the baby, and the vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies.
I HAD COVID-19 AND GOT BETTER. SHOULD I STILL GET THE VACCINE?
Yes. Since it is possible to get sick again from COVID-19, you should get the vaccine.
Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
CAN CHILDREN GET THE VACCINE?
WHAT IF I AM HOMEBOUND AND CANNOT GET TO YOUR OFFICE FOR VACCINATION?The state has launched an in-home vaccination program for homebound people who are not able to leave their homes to get to a vaccination site, even with assistance. If you or your loved one is eligible for an in-home vaccination, you can call the Homebound Vaccination Central Intake Line at (833) 983-0485. You will be able to speak with a representative who will ask questions to determine if an in-home vaccination is appropriate. If in-home vaccination is appropriate, you will be registered with the State Homebound Vaccine Provider or referred to your local Board of Health to schedule an appointment.
IS THERE A COST TO RECEIVE THE VACCINE?
There is no cost to you to receive the vaccine.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AT MY APPOINTMENT?
The person giving you the vaccine will ask you some questions and then give you the shot.
You will be observed for at least 15 minutes after vaccination.
If you have had allergic reactions to other injectable medications or vaccines in the past, or if you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from any cause, you will be observed for 30 minutes.
You will receive a vaccination card that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it.
IS THE COVID-19 VACCINE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE?
Atrius Health strongly recommends you get the COVID-19 vaccine at any location when it is available to you. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and one of the best ways to protect yourself and those around you from getting sick from COVID-19. Vaccination helps end the pandemic and enables each of us to start doing some things we enjoy.
HOW WERE THE VACCINES TESTED TO SHOW THEY ARE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE?
All three approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective against serious illness, hospitalization, and death.
Before being given to the public, the makers of the vaccines did studies to be sure they are safe. We have known about the technology used to make the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for decades. Scientists were able to use the latest scientific knowledge to learn a lot about the virus rapidly and use the mRNA technology.
Healthcare officials, public health experts and other scientists who were not directly involved in developing the vaccines then reviewed all of the science and studies before each of the vaccines were authorized.
DOES THE VACCINE HAVE SIDE EFFECTS?
Just like the flu shot or any other vaccine, there is a chance that you will experience side effects. These are a sign that the vaccine is working, and the body is building immunity. Most side effects should not cause concern and will go away in a day or two. Some people report feeling more side effects after the second dose with the two-dose vaccines. You should stay home if you have a fever.
Common side effects include:
- Pain at the injection site
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
SHOULD I DELAY OR NOT RECEIVE THE VACCINE FOR ANY REASON?
You are advised to delay getting the vaccine if:
- You are feeling sick at the time of vaccination (fever, shortness of breath, vomiting, diarrhea or acute illness).
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 14 days and have not yet met the criteria to stop isolation.
You are advised not to receive the vaccine if:
- You have a history of immediate allergic reaction after a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components (including polyethylene glycol [PEG]) OR have had an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to polysorbate.
SHOULD I GET VACCINATED IF I HAVE ALLERGIES?
If you were treated for an allergic reaction within four hours of receiving your first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer), you should not receive that particular type of vaccine again, but if additional doses are required to complete the series, you may be able to receive a different brand of vaccine. You also should not receive an mRNA vaccine if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction within 4 hours of receiving any of the ingredients of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. You may consider a different type of non-mRNA vaccine if that is the case for you.
People who have allergies to pets, food, medications taken by mouth or allergies to other things such as pollen, etc., can get vaccinated. People with allergies to other injectable medications or vaccines can get vaccinated but should check with their healthcare providers to discuss risks and benefits before receiving the vaccine. People who have a history of very severe allergic reactions may be asked to remain for a 30 minute observation period after getting the vaccine.
HOW DO I GET A COPY/PROOF OF MY COVID-19 VACCINATION WHICH I HAD DONE AT ATRIUS HEALTH?
If you are an Atrius Health patient who was vaccinated at one of our practices and you have a MyHealth account, you can log into your account and download a PDF of your COVID-19 vaccination documentation for your records. If you do not have a MyHealth account, you can call 617-541-6677 for proof of vaccination assistance.
HOW DO I GET A COPY/PROOF OF MY COVID-19 VACCINATION IF I AM AN ATRIUS HEALTH PATIENT, BUT I GOT VACCINATED AT A MASS VACCINATION SITE, RETAIL PHARMACY OR OTHER COMMUNITY LOCATION IN MASSACHUSETTS?
You should first contact the location/provider where you were vaccinated for proof of vaccination documentation.
If you were vaccinated at a Massachusetts mass vaccination site, view these instructions on the Mass.gov website for mass vaccination site record requests by each location.
If you have a MyHealth account and were vaccinated in Massachusetts, you can also log into your account and see if we have details of your COVID vaccination, even if you did not get vaccinated at Atrius Health. Massachusetts has what’s called the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS) which is operated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). According to Massachusetts law, all immunizations given in the state must be reported to the MDPH through the MIIS. We regularly update our medical record system with newly reported MIIS vaccination data for our patients. If you can see your COVID vaccination in your MyHealth account, you can download a PDF of the COVID-19 vaccination documentation for your records. Please note if you were vaccinated outside the state of Massachusetts, this will not be reported to the MIIS. Please contact the out-of-state provider/location you were vaccinated at to get your proof of vaccination.
Finally, you can also fill out an Immunization Record Request Form that goes directly to MDPH. If you use this form, you will get a complete history of all vaccines you’ve gotten, not just the COVID-19 vaccine, and it can take up to 6 weeks to get your records.
HOW DO I GET ACCESS TO MY COVID-19 TEST RESULTS DONE AT ATRIUS HEALTH IF I NEED THEM FOR PROOF OF A NEGATIVE TEST?
If you are an Atrius Health patient who has been tested for COVID-19 at one of our practices and you have a MyHealth account, you can log in to your MyHealth account to access and print out your test results.