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So you’re eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Now what?

Everyone in the U.S. over the age of 16 is eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as of April 19, 2021–a crucial step to bringing about the end of the pandemic. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

It’s your turn.

Today everyone in the U.S. over the age of 16 is eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a crucial step to bringing about the end of the pandemic.

Northeastern is requiring students returning to its campuses for the fall semester to be fully vaccinated, unless they are exempt for medical or religious reasons. If enough people in the community are immune, the spread of the coronavirus will be severely limited, protecting more vulnerable individuals who might not be able to get the vaccine for medical reasons. The appearance of variants of the coronavirus makes it all the more urgent for people who can be vaccinated to get their shots as soon as possible.

Here’s what you need to know about getting vaccinated.

First, choose where you would like to be vaccinated.

You can choose from among state-run mass vaccination sites, healthcare centers, and pharmacies. For Massachusetts, you can find a list of locations at vaxfinder.mass.gov. If you are in another state, go to vaccinefinder.org.

There are many vaccination sites within walking distance of the Boston campus. Two of the state’s mass vaccination sites are close to opposite ends of campus: Hynes Convention Center and the Reggie Lewis Center at Roxbury Community College. Community health centers such as Tufts Medical Center and Boston Medical Center are also nearby, as well as several pharmacies that have vaccine distribution facilities, like Walgreens, CVS, and Stop & Shop.

Next, register for an appointment.

For some sites, you can pre-register online to be automatically signed up for an appointment and alerted when it’s your turn. In Massachusetts, you can pre-register online to be contacted when an appointment is available to schedule at one of the mass vaccination locations.

While pre-registering is an easy option, you may be able to get an appointment more quickly by looking for open slots at other sites. To help you find appointments as they open, you can sign up for Twitter notifications from @vaccinetime. The account also shares when there are extra doses that need to be administered promptly. There is also a website that scours sites for you called Covid-19 Vaccine Spotter that scans for pharmacy appointments in any state you select. You can also check your local pharmacy’s website to see if appointments are available there.

If you need help booking an appointment, go to Massachusetts COVID vaccination help.

If you’re having trouble finding an appointment in Massachusetts, you might also try New Hampshire. As of Monday, that state is opening up its vaccination facilities to out-of-staters.

The university community at Northeastern’s other U.S campus locations may refer to the following resources for information: 

Faculty, staff, and students in Canada and the United Kingdom should be eligible to have access to the vaccine in the near future. The university continues to monitor the supply and the timeline across Northeastern’s global network locations.  

What to bring to your appointment:

Bring an ID and a health insurance card, if you have one. The ID is to verify your name in the vaccination system, and your insurance will be billed at no cost to you. You can still receive a vaccine without either of those, and vaccine distribution sites can’t deny you a vaccine for not having them. The vaccine is free for everyone.

What you can expect at the vaccination site:

Check-in procedures vary at different sites, but if you’re early, you may have to wait outside to maintain physical distancing indoors. Once you’re in, the staff will help you schedule your second shot. After getting the shot, you will have to wait for 15 minutes for observation in a designated, safe, properly distanced place.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I get vaccinated in Massachusetts if I don’t live here all year? Or if I’m an international student?

Yes. Vaccination sites in Massachusetts will inoculate anyone who lives, works, or studies in the state over the age of 16, regardless of residency or immigration status. Many other states have similar policies.

If I get my first dose in Massachusetts (or in another state) and then leave the state, how do I get my second dose?

As the semester ends, you may have to schedule your second shot in a different location. Vaccine providers understand that, and ask if you are scheduling a second shot when you sign up for an appointment. Pharmacies will also give priority to people signing up for a second shot through their systems. Just make sure that you get the same type of vaccine for both doses.

What about international students?

International students should check to see if their home country offers the vaccines available in Massachusetts before getting a first shot here. Students should plan their vaccination timeline so that they can get both doses in accordance with the guidelines of public health authorities. International students unable to get vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall will be given assistance in setting up an appointment upon arrival.

What documentation do you need for Northeastern’s vaccine requirements?

Students will just need to share the basic information of when they got their shots and which manufacturer’s vaccine they received, says Madeleine Estabrook, senior vice chancellor for student affairs at Northeastern. That information will be on the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card provided at your vaccine appointments. Estabrook recommends taking a photo or making a copy of that card for your records.

What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated”?

Immediately after you have received your second shot, you aren’t yet fully vaccinated. It takes two weeks for your body’s immune response to the vaccine to develop fully. In that period of time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are to continue physical distancing and wearing masks, even in the company of others who have received the vaccine. Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts after you are vaccinated.

Does this requirement mean COVID-19 testing requirements or other health and safety protocols will change?

Northeastern will continue to monitor and follow CDC guidelines when it comes to health and safety protocols like mask-wearing, hand-washing, and healthy distancing. All health and safety requirements, including testing, remain in place until further notice.

Will people who get the vaccine be exempt from required COVID-19 testing?

No. At this time, people who get the vaccine should continue with their required COVID-19 testing.

What will happen if I try my best to access the vaccine and I’m not able to before classes begin in the fall?

Northeastern will continue to carefully monitor vaccine access and supply across our global network locations, especially as we approach the start of the fall term. We strongly encourage you to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you. For international students who may have limited access to the vaccine,  Northeastern will assist you in getting the vaccine soon after your arrival.

For more information about Northeastern’s vaccination requirements, visit the university’s dedicated COVID-19 website. For media inquiries, please contact media@northeastern.edu

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