How and Where to Get COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters in Massachusetts

Posted on 07/20/22 by Andrew Soergel

Gillette Stadium In Massachusetts Opens As Mass Vaccination Site

  • Pfizer & Moderna: Authorized for people age 6 months and older. Both Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technology, which prompts the body to make its own version of COVID-19’s spike protein, a key part of the virus.
  • Novavax:  Authorized for adults age 18 and older. Novavax uses a more traditional vaccine technology, directly delivering a lab-made version of the COVID spike protein upon injection.
  • Johnson & Johnson (J&J): Authorized for people 18 and older who only have access to the J&J vaccine, or who cannot receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for medical reasons. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its J&J guidance due to a rare but serious blood clotting disorder associated with the one-shot vaccine.

  • People age 5 to 17: Pfizer recipients should get a booster at least five months after completing their initial two-shot series, according to the CDC.
  • People age 18 and older: Moderna and Pfizer recipients should get their booster five months after their second shot, and Johnson & Johnson recipients should get a booster at least two months after the first shot. 
  • Second boosters: People 50 and older are eligible for a second booster of Pfizer or Moderna at least four months after their initial booster. People 12 and older who are immunocompromised or have had certain organ transplants are also eligible for a second Pfizer booster, while those 18 and older with the same health conditions can get a second Moderna booster. And people who are immunocompromised and who have already received four shots — three vaccine doses and a booster — can get a second booster.

Third doses of Pfizer and Moderna, distinct from boosters, are recommended for specific immunocompromised people age 12 and older. These recipients may also get a booster — a fourth dose — at least six months after the third shot, according to CDC guidance. The agency recommends that children ages 5 to 11 who are immunocompromised get a third Pfizer dose 28 days after their second shot.

Novavax booster shots are being studied in clinical trials and are expected to be approved by the FDA in the coming weeks.

It’s safe and effective to choose which vaccine you receive as a booster, either Pfizer or Moderna, regardless of which initial vaccines your received. Novavax booster shots are expected to be approved by the FDA in the coming weeks. Health officials have discouraged people from receiving an initial J&J vaccine or booster due to a rare but serious blood clotting disorder.

  • Certain retail pharmacies, some of which are offering vaccines and boosters to walk-ins, no appointment necessary. Check the websites of WegmansWalgreens or CVS to see if vaccines are available near you. You can also get a CVS appointment at some Target stores with CVS pharmacies inside. Note that some pharmacy websites require you to answer questions about your vaccination status before presenting the option for a booster. Many sites let you book appointments for the specific brand of vaccine or booster you prefer, based on availability.
  • Several state-sponsored sites, including Fenway Park in Boston, are offering vaccines and boosters. Use the state's vaccine locator tool to find a vaccine or booster site near you.
  • The federal government’s vaccines websiteVaccines.gov, lets you search for vaccination sites by zip code, with links to appointments. Get the same information by texting your zip code to 438829 or by calling 800-232-0233 (TTY: 888-720-7489).
  • Certain hospitals, health centers and vaccine clinics. Use the interactive map on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine website to find a location near you and book through the vaccine finder tool or by calling 2-1-1. 
  • Many transit agencies are offering free or discounted rides to and from vaccination sites.

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, along with your health insurance card, if you have one. You won’t be charged for the initial vaccine series, or a booster shot, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine. After your first shot, bring your vaccine card for subsequent shots.  

Most long-term care residents and staff were offered first and second doses through a federal program that provided free on-site vaccinations in late 2020 and early 2021. The program has ended, but the federal government continues to allocate COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to pharmacies that are partnered with long-term care facilities to provide vaccinations, mainly on-site.  

Facilities that don’t have a pharmacy partner are encouraged to work with local or state health departments — or the federal government, if need be — to provide vaccinations. 

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine or a booster. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself.

Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax
vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.  

You may need your vaccine card to schedule a third vaccine dose, for certain immunocompromised people, or a booster shot.  You may also need it for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft.

If you’ve lost your vaccine card, call the site where you were vaccinated to request a new one or a copy of your vaccination record. You can also contact your state health department to request a replacement card or a copy of your record. 

All four vaccines reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections and are highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from the disease. But no vaccine is 100 percent effective, and infections can still occur post-vaccination. 

This guide, originally published Jan. 13, 2021, was updated on July 20, 2022, with new information about the Novavax vaccine.

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This story is provided by AARP Massachusetts. Visit the AARP Massachusetts page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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