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COVID-19 vaccinations for people under age 18

People age 16 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are under 18 years old, there are certain steps you should take.

People age 16 and older who live, work, or study in Massachusetts can get vaccinated.

Table of Contents

Consent for people under 18

Currently, people under 18 can only get the Pfizer vaccine.

A legally authorized representative (usually a parent or guardian) must give permission (also called consent) for vaccination for someone under the age of 18, such as by completing a written consent form that the minor (the person under the age of 18) can bring to his or her vaccination appointment. Please contact the vaccination site 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.

Is the vaccine safe?

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

Currently, people under 18 can only get the Pfizer 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.

How to schedule and prepare for your appointment

Step 1: Preregister for a mass vaccination or regional collaborative location, or find a location and schedule your appointment

There are different ways to find a vaccine appointment:

Massachusetts’ preregistration system makes it easier to request and schedule an appointment. People can preregister for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at mass vaccination locations and certain regional collaborative locations only. More locations will continue to be added.

Once you sign up for preregistration, you’ll receive weekly status updates. You can opt out at any time if you find an appointment elsewhere. Once an appointment is available, you’ll be contacted with the opportunity to book the appointment and have 24 hours to accept it.

Massachusetts receives a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses from the federal government each week. Due to high demand and very limited supply, it may take several weeks to schedule an appointment or to be notified that an appointment is available. 

People without access to the internet or who are unable to preregister or 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 coronavirus 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 COVID-19 vaccine approved for people under 18 years old, from Pfizer – is given in two doses, about three 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, these are not side effects of the vaccine and 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 under 18 get?

At this time, only the Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for people 16 and older. As of April 19th, people 16 and older will become eligible for all available vaccines.

What happens after I am vaccinated?

It will take two weeks after your final shot to become fully vaccinated. After you are fully vaccinated, you should continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing while visiting with people who are not fully vaccinated.

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 vaccine?

The vaccines do not contain eggs, gelatin, preservatives, or latex. COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets for recipients and caregivers list the ingredients of each vaccine. Those factsheets can be found at:

What ingredients are in the available COVID-19 vaccines?

Why should someone under 18 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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