2022 - 2023 Flu Season: Flu Vaccination

COVID-19 Update: Getting a Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

About the COVID-19 Vaccines Scheduling an Appointment & Getting the Vaccine
Additional and Booster Dose Availability Safety, Side Effects and Other Concerns
Immunocompromised Patients Other Vaccine Restrictions and Special Cases
Fertility, Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination 

ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINES

WHAT VACCINES ARE AVAILABLE FOR COVID-19?

Three COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved in the United States to protect against COVID-19:

  • Pfizer Inc./BioNTech (trade name Comirnaty)
  • Moderna (trade name Spikevax)
  • Johnson & Johnson's Janssen

Please visit the CDC’s website to view a compilation of FDA and CDC approvals for eligibility for vaccines and boosters by age.

WHERE CAN I GET VACCINATED?

Atrius Health is pleased to offer our patients ages 6 months and up the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, either first, second or third (for patients who are immunocompromised) doses of the primary vaccine series, as well as booster shots.

Please visit our vaccine clinic page to learn more about your options to schedule and receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Atrius Health.

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.

Vaxfinder.Mass.Gov

https://www.vaccines.gov/search

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. 

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:

ADDITIONAL AND BOOSTER DOSE AVAILABILITY

HOW CAN I RECEIVE MY COVID-19 VACCINE AT ATRIUS HEALTH?

Atrius Health is only offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments for the primary series at our practices. Please use MyHealth to schedule an appointment or call your doctor’s office. 

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). 

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IMMUNOCOMPROMISED PATIENTS

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. 

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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.

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SCHEDULING AN APPOINTMENT & GETTING THE VACCINE

CAN CHILDREN GET THE VACCINE?

Yes. Children ages 5 and older can get the Pfizer vaccine. On November 2, the CDC approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 years old; previously, the vaccine had been approved for those 12 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, however, are for people 18 and older. 

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.

 

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SAFETY, SIDE EFFECTS AND OTHER CONCERNS

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
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Fever

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OTHER VACCINE RESTRICTIONS AND SPECIAL CASES

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.

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PROOF OF COVID-19 VACCINATION

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.

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