About the COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccines are safe and are one of the best ways to protect yourself and those around you from getting sick from COVID-19. 

The vaccine doesn’t contain the virus that causes COVID-19, so it can’t make you sick. You may experience mild side effects after getting the vaccine, but this is a sign that your body is learning how to protect you.

Massachusetts has started to vaccinate against COVID-19. Here are a few important things to know:

  • The vaccine is free
  • Anyone who lives, works, or studies in Massachusetts can get a vaccine 
  • You can get vaccinated even if you are undocumented. Getting a vaccine will not impact you or your family’s immigration status. The Public Charge rule does NOT apply to getting the vaccine.

Right now supplies are severely limited, so Massachusetts is prioritizing who gets the vaccine first. The timeline is made up of 3 phases and prioritized by groups within each phase. The timeline reflects several priorities:

  • Protecting our most vulnerable residents
  • Maintaining health care system capacity
  • Addressing inequities in health care access and focusing on communities with the highest COVID-19 burden

How the vaccine works

Vaccines help our immune system fight infections in the future. The COVID-19 vaccine will protect us from the virus that causes COVID-19 without having to get the illness. 

The vaccine will help protect you by teaching your body how to recognize and fight the virus. The vaccine can help keep you from getting COVID-19, but even if you do get the virus, it can keep you from getting very sick.

Two approved COVID-19 vaccines, one from Moderna and one from Pfizer – are given in two doses, about three weeks apart. You need both doses to be fully protected. A third vaccine – Johnson & Johnson – requires only a single dose to be protected. 

It takes a few weeks after the second dose to become fully protected. You may have a sore arm, aches, fatigue, or fever for a few days after getting the vaccine. These symptoms are a sign that your immune system is learning how to protect you from the virus.

The vaccine is safe even though it happened quickly

We understand the importance of being open and honest about the safety and development of the vaccine— especially for communities who have suffered consequences of medical mistreatment. The COVID-19 vaccine was developed quickly but all of the same safety steps were followed for this vaccine that are used for all vaccines. 

Vaccine companies moved quickly because: 

  • They used existing research and information on coronavirus: COVID-19 is part of a family of viruses that has been studied for a long time. The vaccine developers used this existing research to help develop the COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Governments funded vaccine research: The United States and other governments invested a lot of money to help vaccine companies with their work. Working together with other countries also helped researchers move quickly.
  • Tens of thousands of people participated in vaccine studies: Studies of the vaccine (called Clinical Trials) were conducted to prove the vaccine is safe and effective. Tens of thousands of people signed up for the studies, so companies did not need to spend a lot of time finding volunteers.
  • Manufacturing happened at the same time as the safety studies: Vaccine companies started making the vaccine at the same time as studies were happening in hopes that it would be proven safe and effective. This meant vaccines were ready to be distributed once they were approved. 

Since the vaccines were approved, millions of people of different races and ethnicities have been vaccinated, and most have only experienced mild side effects.

 For more information about the COVID-19 Vaccine please visit: 


*All information on this page is provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health*