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When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine? How much will it cost? Answers to your questions about Baker’s announcement

A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.Pool/Getty

Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday laid out Massachusetts’ estimated COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, with front-line health workers and long-term care residents and staffers first in line and the general public expected to receive the vaccine in April 2021 and after.

The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is pending the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization, which is expected in the coming days or weeks. Baker said at a Wednesday press conference that the state expects to receive shipments of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and Cambridge-based Moderna.

But if you’re not a health care or long-term care facility worker, or a resident of a long-term care facility, when will you get the vaccine? Here’s what the state is saying, along with answers to some other questions:

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December 2020 - January 2021

(In order of priority)

  • Clinical and non-clinical health care workers doing direct and COVID-19-facing care
  • Long-term care facilities, rest homes, and assisted living facilities
  • Police, fire, and emergency medical services
  • Congregate care settings, including homeless shelters, corrections facilities and the staff who work there
  • Home-based health care workers
  • Health care workers doing non-COVID-19-facing care
February 2021 - April 2021

(In order of priority)

  • Individuals with 2+ comorbidities (high risk for COVID-19 complications)
  • Early education, K-12, transit, grocery, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works, and public health workers
  • People age 65 and older
  • People with one comorbidity
April 2021 and after
  • General public

Baker said at a press conference on Wednesday that the phase of the vaccine being available for people under 65 is still “months away” and there are currently “too many variables being worked out” to say when this stage will get underway, but it is estimated “sometime in the spring.” He added that the distribution of the vaccine will be a long process that plays out over several months, and the timeline could change based on production.

The state expects to have more information in the coming weeks and months about opening up the vaccine availability to the public, and urged people to continue to wear face coverings and avoid groups to help stop the spread of the virus.

How much will it cost?

Baker said on Wednesday COVID-19 vaccines, once they have received emergency approval from the FDA, will be “free of charge” for all individuals, and insurance companies will not charge out-of-pocket costs or co-payments.

“All health care provider sites that receive COVID-19 vaccine must agree to not charge patients any out-of-pocket fees or deny anyone vaccination services,” the state’s COVID-19 vaccine website said.

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Where can I get vaccinated?

When a vaccine has been approved, it will be available to be administered to patients at hospitals, community health centers, and private medical offices, according to the state.

Pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and OSCO, will also have access to the vaccine and will be able to vaccinate their customers, the state said.

The vaccine “will likely also be made available to local health departments for vaccinating their local residents at public clinics,” according to the state.

Baker said the state expects to make the vaccine available at more health care settings “as the vaccine infrastructure ramps up.”

Massachusetts residents can check the CDC’s interactive website, vaccinefinder.org, to see where a COVID-19 vaccine will be available at a public health clinic. People can also check with their primary health care provider, local pharmacy, or local health department to see where a vaccine is available, according to the state.

How will the vaccine process work?

Multiple vaccines that are currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in the US, including Pfizer’s vaccine that began to be administered to some on Tuesday in the UK, require two shots.

After a person receives their first shot, they will need to wait a few weeks before they receive the second.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.