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COVID-19 vaccine timeline and how to make an appointment

May 14, 2021
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Medical worker in a white lab coat giving a shot to an older man wearing a surgical mask

Massachusetts has begun to safely distribute the COVID-19 vaccines. Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA) has closely followed the vaccine development, approval, and delivery timeline. Our team of medical experts are confident that the new vaccines are safe and effective. And we will keep reviewing available information on the vaccine’s ability to protect our members. Getting vaccinated as soon as possible helps make our communities safer for everyone.

We know people have many questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. On this page, you will find answers to some common questions, including the timeline of the vaccine roll-out, how to schedule your appointment, and how much it will cost. We will update this page as we learn more.

While we are excited to share what we learn with you, the content in this article does not replace a discussion with your doctor or caregivers.

CCA members should look out for information and next steps from us in the mail and from their CCA care team. We are dedicated to keeping you safe and helping you learn about the vaccine.

Vaccine Roll-Out in Massachusetts

All people age 16 and older who live, work, or study in Massachusetts are eligible to get vaccinated. For the most up-to-date information on when and where you can get vaccinated, please visit:

No. You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

No. Receiving COVID-19 treatment (including a vaccine) will not have a negative impact on anyone’s immigration status or determine them to be a “public charge.”

Experts have been focused on how to distribute limited quantities of COVID-19 vaccines in a fair, ethical, and transparent way with the goal of reducing serious illness and death, and addressing the needs of the most vulnerable first.

In Massachusetts, a COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group1 made recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Governor about how to prioritize distribution of the vaccine in the Commonwealth. The Advisory Group included medical professionals, public health experts, community leaders, elected officials, and infectious disease specialists. The three primary goals of the Advisory Group’s recommendations were to: 1) preserve the health care system; 2) limit severe morbidity and mortality; and 3) promote equity.

In February, they also launched a program to help 20 cities and towns most impacted by COVID-19. They will work with local leaders to educate residents about the vaccine and reduce barriers to get vaccinated. They also gave $1 million to the MA League of Community Health Centers to support vaccination in underserved communities.

Getting vaccinated is one of the easiest ways you can help protect yourself and those who could be harmed the most by COVID-19 in your community.

Demand is high and vaccine supply is low. You may need to wait several weeks or more before an appointment is available. Keep checking for new appointments to be added.

If you are scheduling your first dose, you can preregister for appointment availability at the MassVax sites. When you preregister, you will receive weekly updates alerting you of your status. If you are eligible to receive a vaccine, and a location near you has availability, you will be contacted with an appointment day/time. You will need to respond to the message sent to you within 24 hours to schedule a visit. Please note: preregistration is available for MassVax sites for first dose visits only. Please do not use the preregistration tool for second doses.

It will likely take several weeks before you get a call back. If you have the option to get the vaccine elsewhere, you should take it. Do not wait for the call-back.

If you have trouble accessing or using the Internet, we may be able to help. Call 866-610-2273 (TTY 711).

There are several locations to get vaccinated. This includes mass vaccine sites like Hynes Convention Center, Gillette Stadium, Bangs Community Center–Amherst, Eastfield Mall–Springfield, former Circuit City–Dartmouth, Marshfield Regional Collaborative, Natick Mall, Reggie Lewis Center, and Danvers Doubletree Hotel.

Certain pharmacies, healthcare offices, and community clinics are also offering the vaccine. Look out for communications from your primary care office. Some offices will notify patients when they have appointments available.

If you have internet access, you can also visit vaxfinder.mass.gov1 to find a location.

If you have trouble accessing or using the Internet, we may be able to help. Call 866-610-2273 (TTY 711).

You must have an appointment to get vaccinated.

Because vaccine supply is limited, your doctor may not yet have a supply of vaccine. Some offices are reaching out to patients when vaccine appointments are available.

If you receive care through the VA, you can call your local VA location to see if they have appointments available.

If your doctor’s office or local VA does not have vaccine appointments, you can visit vaxfinder.mass.gov1 to find a location that does. If you have trouble accessing our using the internet, we may be able to help. Call 866-610-2273 (TTY 711).

Appointment Scheduling

You can book an appointment online. Visit vaxfinder.mass.gov1 to find a location.

If you have trouble accessing or using the Internet, we may be able to help. Call 866-610-2273 (TTY 711).

Like with other medical visits, you will need to share some information like your name and date of birth. You will also be asked for your health insurance information, although health insurance is not required to get the vaccine. Your private information will be protected.

Some locations may be able to use a phone number to confirm your appointment instead. Or, you can use a close family member or friend’s email address, if you have it.

The COVID-19 vaccine is covered at no cost.

You will not have a choice of which vaccine you receive. The vaccine available will depend on the site you are getting it from.

You should schedule your appointment for a second dose when you go in to receive your first dose. The vaccine site will help you schedule an appointment for your second dose.

You should receive the second shot at the same location you received the first one. This will help ensure your first and second doses come from the same vaccine manufacturer, which is necessary for the vaccine to protect you fully.

Preparing for Your Appointment

No, you do not need to be tested for COVID-19 before getting vaccinated.

When the appointment is scheduled, the vaccine site will tell you what you need to bring. Bring your CCA member ID card, although health insurance is not required to receive the vaccine.

If you have a photo ID, you should bring it with you to the appointment. If you do not have one, you can still receive the vaccine.

You will also be asked for some basic personal information like your name and date of birth. Your information will be protected. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health keeps an electronic record of each person who gets the COVID-19 vaccine. The database is kept confidential like a patient’s medical record with their doctor. 

You will never be asked for a credit card number or any other form of payment for the vaccine.

If you’re a CCA member and need a ride to or from your vaccine appointment, we can help. Call 855-204-1410 (TTY 711), 7 am to 8 pm, Monday to Friday or 8 am to 12 pm, Saturday and Sunday.

The exact setup and distance will be different at each site. All the mass vaccine sites have wheelchairs available for use.

For directions, parking information, and more details about set up, visit the vaccine site’s website.

You may need to wait in line at certain vaccine sites. You should bring a wheelchair if it is hard for you to stand for long periods of time. You can also request a wheelchair when you arrive at a mass vaccine site.

It may differ between sites depending on wait times. Some of the mass vaccine sites expect 60–75 minutes from the time you check in until you can leave.

Once you get the vaccine, a healthcare provider at the site will monitor you for an allergic reaction. They will watch you for 15–30 minutes.

Yes, you may bring someone with you to help.

A person accompanying a person 75 or older to a vaccine appointment at a mass vaccine location can get the vaccine. They must schedule their own appointment for the same location and same day. Try to schedule the appointment at a similar time if you can. The companion can get their first shot even if the 75+ resident is getting their second shot. Only one person can schedule an appointment with the 75+ resident.

If you are a parent or guardian and cannot arrange child care during your appointment, your child(ren) can also come with you.

You will need to work with the vaccine site.  If you scheduled a visit with assistance from the Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line, call 2-1-1 (877-211-6277) for help in canceling or rescheduling your visit.

You will receive a card or printout that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it. It is important to keep the card and bring it to your second appointment. You should keep it after for your own records.

You should also receive a fact sheet that tells you more about the specific COVID-19 vaccine you received.

 Do you have other COVID-19 vaccine questions for CCA? 

CCA members can email questions to [email protected] or leave a message at 888-377-7901. 

We will review the questions we receiv, and update information posted here when possible. We will try to cover topics that could affect a lot of our members. If you have concerns about the vaccine that are unique to your specific needs, please speak with your primary care provider or CCA care partner. They are here to help!

To find more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, please check these resources:

1When you click this link, you will leave the Commonwealth Care Alliance website.

This article was originally posted on February 8, 2021. It now contains more up-to-date information. 

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