Wondering how to get a COVID test?
There are many ways to get a COVID test. If you have symptoms or have been exposed to a COVID positive patient, we advise you have a PCR test done 4-5 days post exposure if you are asymptomatic. You must quarantine until you get a negative result. If you have symptoms, get tested immediately as you continue to practice appropriate quarantine guidelines. Call your provider and let them know what's going on. They can put in an order for you at a facility nearby. Additionally, you can go to a local clinic or urgent care for testing, or you may find the CIC Health testing option below to be very convenient.
Click the image below for more testing alternatives:
COVID Vaccine Information:
COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE 12.17.20
We realize the flood of information regarding approval of COVID-19 vaccines is both hopeful and overwhelming. Below you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we’re hearing from patients regarding safety, efficacy and distribution of the recently approved Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and the Moderna vaccine, which is likely to receive approval from the FDA shortly. Please keep in mind that the situation is fluid and what is shared now can change. Distribution is being handled by local governments.
We recommend checking these websites regularly for the latest information:
When can I get my COVID-19 vaccine?
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed to governmental agencies and hospitals in limited quantities. There will not be nearly enough vaccine for some time. Frontline healthcare workers will receive priority, followed by residents and staff at long-term care facilities, workers in essential and critical industries including emergency services personnel, people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, and people ages 65 years and older. As more vaccine becomes available, and if other vaccines are approved with less difficult storage requirements, more vaccination providers will come online, and that might start to include doctors’ offices. We do not know when or if we will be able to get the vaccine, but will update you as the rollout continues to evolve. The criteria for eligibility is still being worked out by the CDC.
I am a high-risk patient. Is there a waitlist I can join to get my vaccine faster?
After the initial phase of vaccinations, people aged 65 and older or younger than 65 with chronic underlying medical conditions will be a candidate for the vaccine. We encourage everyone to be vaccinated and we plan to get the vaccine ourselves as soon as it is offered to us. Please know that we have no way of getting you a vaccine sooner or prioritizing patients. The prioritization plan the CDC recommends helps all of us by making sure we can receive medical care in the hospital if we need to, with enough doctors, nurses, and support staff. Protecting nursing home residents and staff makes sense because it saves the most lives.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Experience with the Pfizer vaccine is limited, but enough for the CDC to approve it for use. It is not a live virus, so you cannot catch COVID-19 from it. There have been a few significant allergic reactions, primarily in individuals with a history of serious allergic reactions in the past. Most common side effects experienced were pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site, fever, fatigue, headache, or muscle and joint pain. It is advised not to plan to work the day after the immunization. No other major safety events were noted but may become apparent as more people are immunized. These side effects may be more prominent than what is experienced after a flu shot, but they are not dangerous and indicate the vaccine is activating the body’s immune response.
How do these vaccines work?
These vaccines use mRNA to direct our cells to make a harmless piece of the “spike protein” found on the surface of the coronavirus. This triggers an immune response, producing protective antibodies to fight off the virus if it should enter our bodies. For additional information on how these vaccines were developed, you may want to read this recently published interview with vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit.
Is the vaccine effective, and for how long?
Preliminary reports from Pfizer and Moderna indicate their vaccines are highly effective but it is not yet known for how long. The vaccine has been shown to start working within 10-14 days of receiving the first dose. Studies have measured antibodies that persist for at least several months after vaccination, but this is not the only way disease is prevented. Studies are ongoing to determine how long these vaccines provide protection.
How many vaccine doses do I need and will it need to be repeated every year, like the flu shot?
The first vaccines will require two doses separated by at least three or four weeks depending upon which vaccine you receive. At this time, it is not known if follow-up vaccinations will be required for COVID-19, as they are for influenza. Studies are in progress to answer this question.
Once I am vaccinated, can I still spread COVID-19 to others?
We know the vaccine protects against symptomatic and severe disease with COVID-19. It is not yet known whether it is possible for someone who has been vaccinated to still acquire and spread COVID-19 to others. That is why it will remain essential to continue to wear a mask, avoid crowds, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands until broad public immunity is achieved.
If I have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past, should I get the vaccine?
Yes, you should be vaccinated even if you previously had COVID-19 and have recovered. It’s unclear how long immunity lasts after the COVID-19 infection and it may vary by individual.
Can I take the vaccine if I have a weakened immune system as a result of receiving chemotherapy or taking immunosuppressive medication?
To date, no problems have been seen to suggest that immunosuppressed individuals should not take the vaccine.
We will update you via email and website postings as further vaccine information becomes available. As always, we encourage you to call our office with questions or concerns. We are grateful for the opportunity to guide, advise and care for you during this challenging period, and look forward to better times just ahead. Please continue to wear masks, social distance and avoid group gatherings.
Stay safe and well,
Brian Z. Bilchik, M.D.
Charles M. Blatt, M.D.
Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, M.D.
Dara Lee Lewis, M.D.
Shmuel Ravid, M.D., M.P.H.
All COVID-19 vaccinations are being coordinated by Mass General Brigham for us. This has all of the information that we have as of right now:
You might also want to check out the state site, as well:
We're estimating the earliest patient vaccination will be in February and after. However, you will continue to receive information from MGB and Brigham Health via Patient Gateway over the next few weeks/months.
Brigham and Women's Physician Group
If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19/Coronavirus and you do not have symptoms:
· You must quarantine at home for 10 days after your exposure and monitor yourself for symptoms.
· If you develop symptoms, call your doctor’s office right away.. If you do not have a doctor, please call the nurse hotline at 617- 724-7000.
· If you do not develop symptoms for 10 days, you can stop quarantine. However, you must continue to monitor your symptoms for 4 more days. If you develop symptoms during that time, immediately restart quarantine and call your doctor’s office. You may a COVID-19 test.
· After home quarantine ends, you can interact more freely with members of your household. However, you should still follow the “General Instructions for everyone” below.
· If you are being followed by your local Board of Health, please call them for further instructions and before returning to work. Look up your city or town’s Board of Health on the internet or call City or Town Hall for a phone number.
· Check with your employer before returning to work. Mass General Brigham employees should call 617-724-8100 for instructions.
· Please note that COVID policies are different in each state. Within Massachusetts, local Boards of Health may have different guidelines. Please call your Local Board of Health for specific questions. In Massachusetts, some people may be allowed to stop quarantine if they have a negative test at least 5 days after exposure, and do not have any symptoms for 7 days after exposure. An additional 7 days of symptom monitoring are still required. An immediate return to quarantine is required for anyone who develops symptoms.
If you have symptoms:
· You must quarantine at home for 14 days after your exposure.
· If your symptoms get worse, or if you develop new symptoms, call your doctor’s office right away. You may need another test. If you do not have a doctor, please call the nurse hotline at 617-724-7000.
· Please contact your local Board of Health before stopping quarantine and before returning to work.
· Check with your employer before returning to work. Mass General Brigham employees should call 617-724-8100 for instructions.
Home Quarantine Instructions:
Monitor your symptoms, including the following:
○ Difficulty breathing
If symptoms develop or worsen, call your doctor’s office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the operator that you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. This will allow them to take proper precautions to protect everyone’s safety.
· Stay home except to get medical care. Call ahead before visiting the doctor to let the office know you are on quarantine/isolation. When leaving home for essential medical care, avoid public transportation, including buses, trains, ride- sharing services, and taxis.
· Separate from other people and animals in your home. This includes staying in a single room away from other people and using a separate bathroom if available. If there isn't, the bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected after you use it. Please do not allow visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.
· Wear a covering or mask around other people and pets, even at home. Wear a face covering or mask around other people and pets, including at home and in vehicles. If you have trouble breathing with a face covering or mask on, other people in the household should wear a face covering or mask when in the same room as you.
· You should not prepare, serve food to others, or share personal items like dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding. Wash all items thoroughly with soap and water. Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool or body fluids on them. Wash your laundry separately.
Everyone in your house should:
· Cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a trash can lined with a disposable bag. Then, immediately wash hands. Cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow if a tissue is not available.
· Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Rub the fronts and backs of hands, and the spaces between all fingers, the whole time. Then rinse with water. If soap and water are not available, clean hands with an alcohol- based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of each hand, and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
· Clean all "high touch" surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables with a household cleaning spray or wipes. Pay attention to labels of cleaning solutions for precautions to take, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use.
General Instructions for Everyone:
· Adults and children aged 6 and up must wear a mask or cloth face covering in public, both indoors and outdoors. This is a Massachusetts mandate, effective November 6, 2020. Children under 2 do not need to wear masks. Masks or face coverings are encouraged but not required for children aged 2-5. Masks and face coverings should fit snugly but still allow for comfortable breathing. Detailed instructions from the CDC are available in multiple languages.
· Wash hands often; cover coughs and sneezes; and follow social distancing guidance. This means staying at least 6 feet away from others outside your household.
· Remember that people may look well and feel well and still be able to spread the virus.
· Stay in touch with friends and family over the phone, video, and other social media instead of gathering in person whenever possible. Outside gatherings are safest, although this is more difficult in colder weather.
Where can I get more information?
· Massachusetts residents: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Hotline can be reached at (617) 983-6800 or at 211, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. TTY/TDD (617) 624-6001. Also check the website: Massachusetts DPH.
· Boston residents: Find reliable information at the Boston Public Health Commission, (617) 534-5395. Also check the website: BPHC.
· New Hampshire residents: The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services can be reached at (866) 444-4211 or at 211. TTY: 603-634-3388. Also check the website: New Hampshire DHHS.