COVID-19 Vaccine Information
Massachusetts is in the process of providing a safe and effective delivery of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. The state’s distribution plan is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We know you have questions about the vaccine, such as safety, coverage, and availability. Answers to common questions and resources for more information are provided below.
Is the vaccine safe?
The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Vaccines go through more testing than any other pharmaceuticals. And before any vaccine is made available, it must go through rigorous development and testing. The COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting severe COVID-19. The CDC has provided additional details about the safety of the vaccines.
Is the vaccine covered?
Yes, the vaccine is covered under Medicare, and there is no cost for Tufts Health Plan members for either the COVID-19 vaccine or for the cost of administering it.
When will it be available?
Early supplies of the vaccine will be limited, but the CDC has stated that most high-risk groups should have the opportunity to be vaccinated over the coming months. Based on the CDC recommendation, initial supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine will be offered to health care personnel and long-term care facility residents.
Vaccine distribution in Massachusetts will occur in a phased approach. We advise you to get the vaccine as soon as you qualify for it. Tufts Health Plan members who are over age 65 are expected to be able to get a vaccine in the February–April timeframe—with those members who have two or more comorbidities (high risk for COVID-19 complications) or over the age of 75 taking priority. For updated information on availability and timeline of distribution in Massachusetts, visit Mass.gov.
Where can you get the vaccine?
Once the vaccine is widely available, the plan is to have the COVID-19 vaccine available in doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers. The CDC’s interactive tool vaccinefinder.org can help provide information on vaccine locations. You can also check with your doctor.
Does it require two doses?
As of this writing, you need 2 doses of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines. A second shot 3–4 weeks after your first shot is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer against this serious disease. You will need to take both doses for the vaccine to be optimally effective.
Are there side effects?
After receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection. Side effects may feel like the flu, with weakness and fatigue, but should go away in a few days. The CDC has provided details on what to expect after getting the vaccine.
There have been reports of some people experiencing severe allergic reactions after getting the vaccine. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends that you should not get that specific vaccine. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies, talk to your doctor. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated. The CDC is monitoring reports of severe allergic reactions and will provide updated information on their website.
Should you still get the vaccine if you had a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID 19?
Because it is not yet known if, or for how long, a COVID 19 infection provides immunity from reinfection, it is not known if you should be vaccinated if you had the infection. In this situation, we recommend you check with your doctor.
What if I am unable to get to a vaccination site?
Your doctor’s office or the Care Manager assigned to your primary care physician can advise you of resources that might be able to help you obtain needed care, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
Continue to keep each other safe and limit spread of COVID-19
A vaccine is only part of the solution for COVID-19. Please continue to use best practices for limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. This includes:
- Wearing a mask when around other people.
- Practicing social/physical distance.
- Avoiding indoor gatherings.
- Washing your hands with both soap and water for 20 seconds every time you touch something that came from outside your home.
- If you haven’t yet been vaccinated for influenza this year, there is still time to do so before the peak of the flu season hits.
For additional details on the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the CDC website.