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End of the Public Health Emergency
On May 11, 2023, the public health emergency declaration ended. Learn more about what is changing and what is not in MA from the Department of Public Health. As this unfolds through health policy over the next few months, more information may come from the federal and state governments.
The end of the public health emergency does not mean that COVID is no longer a threat. The virus remains a leading cause of death in the United States. The CDC continues to advise that everyone stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, use at-home tests if they’ve been exposed or have symptoms, stay home if they’re sick, and wear a high-quality mask when COVID-19 levels are high. These precautions are the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Updated vaccine guidance
The CDC updated its COVID-19 vaccine recommendations to simplify guidance and allow people at higher risk for severe COVID-19 to get an additional vaccine dose.
Adults 65 or older or immunocompromised, can now get one additional bivalent dose if it has been at least four months since your previous (bivalent) dose.
Individuals ages 6 years and older are recommended to get one updated (bivalent) booster dose, regardless of whether they have completed a primary series. For kids under 6, the bivalent dose is already incorporated into their vaccine series.
Now, people 6 years and older who have never been vaccinated for COVID-19 only need to get one dose to be up-to-date on their COVID vaccination!
All people age 6 months and older who live, work, or study in Massachusetts can be vaccinated. Children ages 6 months through 17 years can receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. People age 18 and older can receive any vaccine. Learn more.
Booster shots are available for anyone 6 months and older. The FDA authorized an updated formulated booster that targets newer variants and is replacing the original formula for all COVID vaccines/boosters. Learn more.
- Vaccines.gov: Search for a vaccine or booster site near you.
- MA Mobile Vaccination Program: Find mobile clinics in some locations across Massachusetts.
- In-Home Vaccination Program: Available to anyone who has difficulty getting to a vaccine site.
- If you are seeking a vaccine appointment for children, you can also contact your pediatrician.
- List of Vaccine Scheduling Help Lines in Western MA
- Calling 211 can be a very useful resource
- Check out these free or low-cost options that you may qualify for.
- COVID-19 Homebound Vaccination Program: Any individual who has trouble getting to a vaccine site is eligible for the homebound program. Individuals can call (833) 983-0485 to register for an in-home vaccination. The registration phone line is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM and has representatives who speak English and Spanish, as well as translation services available in 100+ languages.
- Frequently Asked Questions about the vaccine, boosters, and children
- FAQ videos (and in Spanish) from We are Greater than COVID and FAQs from Mass.gov
- Questions and Misconceptions about the vaccine from Trinity Health of New England
- Other trusted sources of COVID-19 Vaccine Information:
- Recording and materials from the 11/2/21 Webinar on What you Need to Know about the COVID Boosters and Vaccine for Kids.
- Recording and materials from 3/5/21 Webinar, The COVID Vaccine: Personal & Professional Perspectives Within African American and Latino Communities
- Recording and materials from 2/5/21 Webinar, COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need to Know
Massachusetts has loosened the statewide mask requirements. Individuals, whether vaccinated or not, are no longer required to wear mask. Local municipalities, public transportation systems, and school districts may still set mask mandates for other settings. Check with a local board of health, transportation company, or school district for more information.
The CDC still recommends:
- Wearing masks on public transportation and depending on your Community Level of risk.
- Wearing high filtration masks (N95, KN95, and KF94) are recommended to offer the best protection against the omicron variant.
- Fully vaccinated people who exhibit symptoms or have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should get tested 5-7 days after exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
If you have symptoms, get tested and follow all precautions.
Any individual who has had a close contacts or who has tested positive must follow the Department of Public Health's isolation and quarantine guidance, which includes isolating or quarantining for a minimum of 5 days, followed by wearing a mask in public for 5 more days after they leave isolation or quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.
If you test positive and have mild-moderate symptoms, you may be eligible for treatments to reduce the risk of severe symptoms and hospitalization. Learn more.