Everything you need to know about booster shots in Boston


Quillan Anderson

The South End Community Health Center is one of many locations offering COVID-19 vaccines to Massachusetts residents.

Erin Fine, news correspondent

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, said it supported vaccine booster rollout in guidelines released Oct. 20. Over 1.3 million Massachusetts residents are eligible for booster shots, WBUR reported, and the state has outlined who can get one.

“​​We will hold vaccination clinics in Mattapan, Dorchester, Hyde Park and Roslindale — neighborhoods where we’ve seen some of the lowest COVID vaccination rates,” acting Mayor Kim Janey said Friday, Nov. 5. “These family clinics will offer first and second dose vaccinations for everyone age five and up, and will offer boosters for those who are eligible.”

The Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for boosters in the United States. Eligibility from the CDC for each brand depends on age, pre-existing conditions and occupation. The Boston Public Health Commission, or BPHC, has an online eligibility checker for booster shots.

Most physicians in Boston offer COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, in addition to pharmacies and pop-up clinics. Vaxfinder provides vaccination locations and appointment scheduling.

The CDC found most symptoms after the booster are similar to those people experienced after their second dose. 

“The side effects of the booster are exactly the same as the side effects of the first and second shot,” said Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It’s kind of feeling crummy for a day or so.”

According to the BPHC, over 65% of Boston residents are fully vaccinated as of Nov. 2. The CDC reported as of Tuesday that over 70% of Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated. Still, Janey’s office has expressed concern surrounding COVID-19 and vaccination rates in Boston communities of color.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has unfairly affected Boston’s Black, Latinx, immigrant and other communities of color,” the BPHC said on Boston.gov. “Systemic racism, including in healthcare and vaccine development, also contributes to concerns and mistrust of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

According to Boston Indicators, the research center of the Boston Foundation, COVID-19 related deaths in 2020 were disproportionately high among Boston’s Black, Asian and Hispanic communities. When adjusted for age, deaths among the Hispanic community increased 334.9% per 100,000 people.

Over 58% of Americans have been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to data from the CDC. Janey explained on Twitter the effort it took to vaccinate Boston residents over the national average.“Boston is one of the most vaccinated big cities in America. That did not happen by accident,” Janey tweeted. “When I became mayor, we moved quickly to ensure we were following the science and doing everything possible to get COVID-19 vaccines in the arms of people in every neighborhood.”