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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

There has been a great deal of news recently about additional booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that people ages 12 and older who previously received Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should receive an additional dose if they have certain conditions that may weaken their immune system.

People who have weakened immune systems may be more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. A third dose of the vaccine may offer them more protection.

These conditions include people who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

You should talk with your healthcare provider about your medical condition and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for you.

The CDC has not recommended additional doses of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) vaccine at this time.

Until official guidance is issued by the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, only patients meeting the criteria above are eligible for additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Harbor Health will provide updates on booster shots as we receive more guidance.

More details are available on the CDC’s website.
Vaccines continue to reduce your risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

While the vaccines are highly effective against severe illness, some fully vaccinated people have had symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19.  When a fully vaccinated person has COVID-19, it is called a “breakthrough infection.” The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Fully vaccinated people with Delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others. 

Even if you are fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends everyone in areas of substantial or high transmission wear a mask in public indoor places. Please also continue to follow state and local guidance for wearing masks and social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Also, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus, please get a COVID-19 test and follow medical advice to prevent the spread.

COVID-19 Symptoms  

Here’s how to talk with them:

1. Start by saying whether you’ve gotten the vaccine or are going to. Then ask them what they are planning to do. Use these tips to have a good conversation.

Tips for Talks – English

Dicas Para Conversas 

2. They will probably tell you about some questions and concerns. Here are some answers to the most common ones.

Common Vaccine Questions – English

Vacina Contra a COVID-19: Dicas Para Conversas

Vacuna COVID-19: Preguntas y  Preocupaciones Comunes 


3. Maybe they would like to hear what local doctors and nurses say about the pandemic and the vaccine. Watch this half-hour video together.

4. End by saying you are glad you talked. But don’t pressure them about their decision. Did you have a respectful conversation? Mission accomplished!

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and our community. 

Vaccines protect us from disease by teaching our immune system to recognize and fight the disease faster and better. You cannot get the disease from a vaccine.  But without a vaccine, you may get the disease.

The goal is for everyone age 12 and older to be able to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Getting the shot helps stop the spread of coronavirus.  It may also be especially important for people because of their job or a health condition they have.

Getting the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to make an informed decision.

The CDC’s “Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines” has fact-based information about common questions people have about the vaccine.  You can select your preferred language at the top of the page.

Everyone age 12 years of age and older who lives, works, or studies in Massachusetts can now get the COVID-19 vaccine.

People age 12-17 can only get the Pfizer vaccine.  People age 18 and older can get any vaccine.

If you are a Harbor Health patient, please call your health center to ask about getting the vaccine.

If you are not a Harbor Health patient, click the button below to find a location near you.

Vaccine Finder

COVID-19 vaccines are effective. However, a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus that causes it. These are called “vaccine breakthrough cases.” This means that while people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to get sick, it will still happen in some cases. It’s also possible that some fully vaccinated people might have infections, but not have symptoms (asymptomatic infections). Experts continue to study how common these cases are.

After you have been vaccinated, please continue to follow local guidelines for wearing a face covering.  Hand washing, staying home if you are not feeling well, and wearing a mask in situations where you do not know if others around you are vaccinated are all ways you can protect yourself from COVID-19.

You can also read information from the CDC on this topic by clicking the button below.

CDC Information

You can sign up to receive COVID-19 vaccine email updates by clicking the button below or scroll to the bottom of this page to submit a vaccine question.

PLEASE NOTE: The form below is to join an email list to receive information about the vaccine. Completing the form will NOT add your name to a waitlist or register you as a patient.

Sign Up For Covid Vaccine Updates

Right now, there are three approved vaccines, from the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson companies. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work the same way. They contain a small piece of the virus, but not the whole thing. Getting the vaccine trains your body to recognize the virus and kill it. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is different. It uses a dead common cold virus to get a small piece of the COVID-19 virus into your body. It only requires one dose. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine doesn’t protect quite as well against mild cases of COVID-19, but it does protect as well against severe illness.

For three main reasons. First, because scientist have been studying the coronavirus family for many years. Second, because of the severity pandemic, scientists all over the world worked together to find the vaccine. And third, the United States paid drug companies over $12 billion. This paid for all the steps to make the new drug.

If you are a patient at Harbor Health, please use the MyChart Patient Portal to reach your care team.

If you have a non-urgent general question about the COVID-19 vaccine, please use the form at the bottom of this page to submit your question.

We also invite you to visit our COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center to find information, downloads, and videos to help you make an informed decision about getting a vaccine,

Everyone age 12 years of age and older who lives, works, or studies in Massachusetts can now get the COVID-19 vaccine.

After you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should follow local and state guidelines for wearing a mask.

Massachusetts COVID Mask Information

The COVID-19 vaccine is free to everyone.  We will ask for your insurance information if available and bill your insurance.  All insurances are required to cover all costs of COVID vaccinations.  If you do not have insurance, the COVID-19 HRSA Uninsured Fund will cover costs.

The vaccination is free to all. You will be asked for your insurance information if available and bill your insurance.  All insurances are required to cover all costs of COVID vaccinations.  If you do not have insurance, the COVID-19 HRSA Uninsured Fund will cover costs.

No. Everyone should get the vaccine, including immigrants. Getting the vaccine will not affect your immigration status. You won’t be considered a public charge because of it. The law is that healthcare providers must keep patient information confidential.

The safety of all COVID-19 vaccines is very important to everyone. The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. To learn more about the safety steps in place, click here to read information from the CDC.

After getting vaccinated, you may have some side effects.  These are normal signs that your body is building protection. The most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot.

In addition, you may have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Learn more about what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine from the CDC.

If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 9-1-1.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and rare severe allergic reactions from the CDC.

The CDC, FDA, and other federal partners are continuing to monitor the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.  You can find information about adverse effects reported after COVID vaccination at

You can ask your provider questions at your next appointment or visit our COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Center.

Submit a General COVID-19 Vaccine Question

If you have general questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, please submit your question below.  We will respond to general questions as quickly as possible.

Please do not use the online form to send information of a sensitive and private nature such as patient related information. Your protected health information (PHI) is confidential and should only be discussed with your provider.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency please call 9 -1 -1.

Please do not submit medical questions or vaccine questions specific to your medical condition to your care team through this form.  Please use the the MyChart Patient Portal to reach your care team.