When Can I Get Vaccinated?

As people begin to get vaccinated against COVID-19, some of us are eager to get in line but how long will it take to get vaccinated? And when is it your turn? The vaccine process began mid-December in Massachusetts, and Governor Charlie Baker’s administration has worked with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to develop a distribution timeline for all Massachusetts residents.

During Phase 1 (Dec. 2020 – Jan. 2021) of the Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccine plan the first doses were given to health care professionals who work in patient-facing roles, residents of long-term care facilities, first responders, and residents of congregate care settings (like correctional facilities and shelters). We are now in Phase 2, which includes patient vaccination, so watch for communication updates from your health care provider and check this site for new information.

What You Should Know

Even if you were previously sick with COVID-19 or had a positive test for COVID-19, you should still get the vaccine. Currently, scientists don’t know how long COVID-19 antibodies protect people after they have been infected. Those who have had COVID-19 can and should receive the vaccine when it is available because it will give you an additional level of immunity. It is not recommended or needed to test for COVID-19 antibodies prior to getting vaccinated.

If you currently have COVID-19 (even if you don’t have any symptoms), you should wait to be vaccinated until you no longer required to isolate at home (usually 10-20 days after your symptom onset or positive test). Consult with your health care provider if you are concerned that you may have COVID-19.


Illustration of COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Phases in Massachusetts

The Commonwealth’s vaccination timeline is based on key priorities and is designed to best protect the Massachusetts community. The goals are:

  1. To protect the most vulnerable
  2. To keep healthcare facilities below capacity
  3. To tackle inequality of healthcare access by making the vaccine available to all

With these goals in mind Massachusetts has a three-phase program to get you and your family safely vaccinated.

Phase 1: December 2020 – January 2021

The first vaccinations will go to those who work with COVID-19 patients directly, those who work with vulnerable populations, those in care facilities, and those who are emergency respondents, including:

  • Patient-facing health care workers in COVID-facing roles
  • Long term care facilities, rest homes, or assisted living facilities
  • Police, Firefighters, and emergency medical service professionals
  • Congregate care settings (shelters and corrections)
  • Home-based health care workers
  • Health care workers in non-COVID facing roles

Phase 2: February – March 2021

The second round of vaccinations focuses on people with co-morbid health conditions, workers in key public and governmental sectors, and the elderly:

  • Adults 75 and over
  • Adults 65 and over AND People with two or more medical conditions (at high risk for COVID-19)
  • Workers in early education, K-12, grocery stores, transit, utility companies, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works, and public health sectors
  • People with one medical condition

Phase 3: Anticipated to Start April 2021

This is when everyone not in the earlier groups can expect to get vaccinated, depending on vaccine supply. The general public is expected to be invited to get the vaccine at a number of different places.

  • Public vaccine clinics will be available (use the CDC’s interactive website: vaccinefinder.org)
  • Your doctor’s office will likely have the vaccine
  • Local pharmacies and health departments will have the vaccine

While many of us need to wait until April, vulnerable communities and first responders will be vaccinated earlier. In the meantime, keep wearing your masks, clean your hands often, and practice physical distancing to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.