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COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Last Updated: 04/13/2021

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine.

The agencies are reviewing data tied to six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in combination with low levels of blood platelets among individuals who received the J&J vaccine. While these events seem to be extremely rare, the CDC and FDA are recommending a pause in using the J&J vaccine out of an abundance of caution.

Please contact your health care provider if you have received the J&J vaccine within the last three weeks and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or difficulty breathing.

We will continue to monitor and provide updates as the situation evolves. Please visit the CDC’s website for additional 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.   

When will it be available?

The state has released a timeline of eligibility for Massachusetts residents to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.  The timeline is as follows:

  • March 22, 2021: Ages 60 and older are eligible
  • April 5, 2021: Ages 55 and older are eligible
  • April 19, 2021: Ages 16 and older are eligible

For eligibility details, location information, and to schedule an appointment, visit Mass.​gov.

Massachusetts Update on COVID-19 Vaccine for Individuals Ages 65 and Older

Please be patient as appointment availability is dependent on vaccine supply and more appointments will become available as vaccine supply increases.

We advise you to get the vaccine as soon as you qualify for it. For updated information on availability and timeline of distribution in Massachusetts, visit mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine.

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.  

Where can you get the vaccine?

There are multiple locations throughout Massachusetts that will provide the vaccine. To find a location near you, visit Mass.gov. You are covered to get the vaccine at any of the State of Massachusetts-approved vaccine sites.

Do all of the vaccines require two doses? 

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines require two doses. You should get whichever vaccine is available in your community.  Both vaccines protect you against severe illness due to COVID-19. One is not better than the other. To remain healthy, it's important to get the first vaccine that you are eligible to receive in your state or community. This will help protect you, and potentially your loved ones, from the virus.

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. Temporary soreness in your arm, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache are all normal. For more info, the CDC provides 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 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?  

Yes, people who have previously had COVID-19 should be vaccinated.

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. These include:

  • Wearing a mask when around other people. When wearing a mask, the CDC recommends wearing:
    • Non-medical disposable masks
    • Masks that fit snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face
    • Masks made with breathable fabric such as cotton
    • Masks made with tightly woven fabric
    • Masks with two or three layers
    • Masks with inner filter pockets
  • Practicing social/physical distancing.
  • 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.

For additional details on the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the CDC website.

What happens after you're vaccinated? Follow these guidelines.

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