Winter 2022/2023 COVID Vaccine FAQs
What is the best way to protect myself against the current Omicron Subvariants?
- The bivalent vaccine, which is the most up-to-date COVID-19 booster, offers the best protection against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the newer Omicron variants.
Who is eligible for which shots?
- Everyone who is at least 6 months can get the primary COVID vaccine series.
- Everyone who is at least 5 years old and has completed a primary COVID vaccine series can get the updated bivalent vaccine. The CDC recommends that:
- “People ages 5 years and older receive one updated (bivalent) booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, whether that was:
- “People who have gotten more than one original (monovalent) booster are also recommended to get an updated (bivalent) booster.”
- Check out all possible COVID vaccination recommendations here: Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines Including Boosters
When can I get my shots? / I have received my first dose of the primary series – when should I get my second dose?
- Talk to your healthcare or vaccine provider about the timing for the 2nd dose in your primary series. They may have specific recommendations based on your age, current levels of spread in your community, and other variables.
How is the new bivalent booster different from the original COVID-19 vaccine/ the original COVID-19 booster?
- Because the virus that causes COVID-19 changes over time, the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines have a component of the original virus strain to provide broad protection against COVID-19 as well as a component of the newer Omicron variant. This allows the vaccine to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant.
- Over time the virus changes and your immunity naturally decreases. Getting an “Updated” (bivalent) vaccine helps to make sure that you stay protected against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
Why should I get vaccinated if I recently had COVID?
- Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after having COVID-19 provides added protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.
- People who already had COVID-19 and do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get vaccinated after their recovery.
- If you recently had COVID-19, you may consider delaying your next vaccine dose (primary dose or booster) by 3 months from when your symptoms started or, if you had no symptoms, when you first received a positive test
Why did I still get COVID even though I’m vaccinated?
- Breakthrough infections can still sometimes happen. Being fully vaccinated reduces your risk of getting sick and, most importantly, greatly reduces the chances that you will develop severe illness, be hospitalized, or die from COVID. Some fully vaccinated people may still get infected with COVID but have no symptoms and still be able to spread it to others. People who are vaccinated appear to spread the virus for a shorter time.
I don’t trust the vaccines because they haven’t been around long enough/I think they were developed too quickly.
- The science behind the vaccines is solid and has been in the works for decades
- The mRNA technology used to make the vaccines was specifically designed to allow us to respond more quickly to dangerous pandemics like COVID
- “No steps are skipped, it’s just a new technology that moves quicker, like moving from dial-up internet to fiberoptic cable.”
- Approximately 470 million doses were given in the U.S in the first year they were available. Of those who reported a reaction to the vaccine, most had mild side effects, such as pain at the site of the injection.
What should I say to someone who tells me they don’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccine because they are worried about side effects?
- Be respectful of their concerns and remember that their feelings are valid. Ask questions that invite conversation and see if they are open to letting you share some information with them. If they are receptive, you can provide some brief facts from reliable sources such as the CDC, your local health department, or healthcare providers.
How much does it cost to get the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters?
- There is no cost for any of the COVID-19 vaccines. If you mistakenly get a bill for you or a family member’s COVID-19 vaccination, don’t pay it and call your insurance company to ask them to explain the charge.
I am worried about getting the COVID-19 vaccine/booster because of my immigration status.
- “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that vaccines are available to anyone, including undocumented immigrants, without regard to their immigration status.”
I don’t have dependable transportation to get to a vaccination appointment.
- If you are having difficulty finding transportation to get to an appointment there are a couple options available:
- MassHealth provides free transportation to vaccine appointments for any individual with any type of MassHealth coverage or the Health Safety Net (call your health plan or MassHealth directly to schedule free transportation at 800-841-2900 (TTY: 800-497-4648)
- The COVID-19 In-Home Vaccination Program provides in-home vaccinations for those who may have trouble getting to or using a community vaccination location. Call the In-Home Vaccination Central Intake Line at (833) 983-0485 or schedule an appointment directly on the CDR Health Patient Portal page at patientportalma.com
How can I find a COVID-19 vaccine near me?
- To find a vaccine near you, check:
- Your or your child’s healthcare provider’s office
- Your local pharmacy’s website for available COVID vaccine appointments
- Sign up for our email list: Stay in touch with SCI! and follow us on social media for updates on clinics in the communities SCI serves
Is it okay to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the flu vaccine?
- Yes, if you are due for both vaccines you can get both the flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine at the same visit. “Coadministration” (Giving more than one vaccine at a visit) is a common and recommended medical practice. Getting people up to date on all the vaccines they are due for at one visit makes it easier for people to get all of their vaccines since they don’t have to worry about making another appointment for additional vaccinations at a later time.