COVID-19 vaccinations for people ages 12-17

Use this page to find information about the COVID-19 vaccine for youth and young adults.

People age 12-17 who live, work, or study in Massachusetts can get vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine is safe and effective. You don't need an ID or insurance to get it.

Information on vaccinating people ages 5-11, please visit: mass.gov/COVIDvaccinekids

Information on vaccinating people ages 6 months to 4 years old, please visit: mass.gov/COVIDvaccineyoungkids

Table of Contents

Consent for people 12-17 years of age

A legally authorized representative (usually a parent or guardian) must give permission (also called consent) for vaccination for someone 12-17 years of age, such as by completing a written consent form that the minor (the person under the age of 18) can bring to their vaccination appointment. Please contact the vaccination location for more information on written consent, or download a copy of the consent form below. 

The parent or guardian does not need to go with the minor to their vaccination appointment to give consent. If the parent or guardian is not accompanying the minor, they should download and complete a pre-vaccination screening form, available at mass.gov/CDCScreeningForm. The form is available in several languages.

Is the vaccine safe?

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe. There are four COVID-19 vaccines available in Massachusetts: ModernaPfizer, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. These vaccines were approved or authorized by the Federal Food and Drug Administration only after they were shown to be safe and effective in studies (called clinical trials).

People ages 12-17 can get the Pfizer vaccine, or the Moderna vaccine, or the Novavax vaccine.

The U.S. ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. 

In Massachusetts, a group of infectious disease experts reviewed the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. This workgroup confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA are safe and effective.

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.

Booster Information

Everyone ages 5 years and older should get 1 booster after completing their COVID-19 vaccine primary series, if eligible. You can mix and match vaccines. Your booster does not need to be the same vaccine brand as your original COVID-19 vaccination.

If you're NOT immunocompromised, you’re eligible for a booster if:

  • Moderna: It’s been at least 5 months since your second dose
  • Pfizer: It's been at least 5 months since your second dose
  • Johnson & Johnson: It’s been at least 2 months since your first dose  

As of September 1, 2022, updated Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 boosters are now authorized by the FDA and recommended by the CDC. Anyone age 12 or older who completed a primary COVID-19 vaccination series or received a booster dose at least two months ago should get the updated booster as soon as possible.  

People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and may need more doses of vaccine to protect them. Therefore, certain groups of people age 5 and older with weakened immune systems should get an additional vaccine dose as part of their primary series, and also get 2 booster doses a bit sooner than other people.

Learn more about booster eligibility. Use VaxFinder to find a pharmacy or other location to get your booster.

How do I schedule and prepare for my appointment?

Step 1: Find a location and schedule your appointment

Use VaxFinder.mass.gov to search for a vaccine appointment near you.

People without access to the internet or who are unable to schedule their appointment online can call toll free 2-1-1 or (877) 211-6277 for assistance.

Step 2: Learn how to prepare for your appointment and what you need to bring with you.

You will never be asked for a credit card number to make an appointment.

How was the vaccine developed?

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 were able to move quickly because they used existing research and information on coronaviruses and the government funded vaccine research. Tens of thousands of people volunteered to participate in vaccine studies to prove the vaccine is safe and effective.

At the same time as these studies, vaccine companies started making the vaccine 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.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

Vaccines prevent diseases that can be dangerous, or even deadly. They work with your body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection from a disease. 

A vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies, just like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you have protection from that disease, without having to get the disease first.

This is what makes vaccines such powerful medicine. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.

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.

The Pfizer, Novavax, and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are approved for people ages 12-17 years old. Pfizer is given in two doses, about three weeks apartModerna is given in 2 doses 28 days (1 month) apart. Novavax is given in 2 doses, 3-8 weeks apart. You need both doses to be fully 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.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Some people have side effects after being vaccinated (such as tiredness, headache, and pain at the injection site), which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. If you develop respiratory symptoms like runny nose, cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste, you should consider getting tested for COVID-19 or talk to your healthcare provider.

Learn more about vaccine side effects and what to do if you develop serious side effects here.

Which vaccines can people ages 12-17 get?

The Pfizer, Novavax, and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are approved for people ages 12-17 years old.

 

How is Massachusetts working to ensure vaccine equity?

Massachusetts has launched the Vaccine Equity Initiative to work with the 20 communities hardest hit by COVID-19 to increase awareness and acceptance of the vaccine, access to vaccination locations, and vaccine administration rates. This approach is driven by community needs and is centered on equity, a core pillar of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, and is informed by the state’s COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group and the Vaccine Advisory Group.

What are the ingredients in the Pfizer/Comirnaty vaccine?

The vaccines do not contain eggs, gelatin, preservatives, or latex. The Pfizer/Comirnaty COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers lists the ingredients of the vaccine on page 3.

Why should someone ages 12-17 get vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccination will help keep you from getting sick from COVID-19.  All COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. have been shown to be very effective. Experts continue to conduct more studies about whether the vaccines also keep people from spreading COVID-19. 

Wearing masks and social distancing help lower your chance of getting the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

Additional Resources

Questions?

  • If you have questions, call 2-1-1 or try our Vaccine Chat on this page.

Additional resources

Contact

Phone

Informational and referral hotline 211

24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are free and confidential. Interpreter services are available in multiple languages.

All calls are free and confidential.

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