How to Get Your Child a COVID Vaccine in Massachusetts

Here's what you need to know.

Children aged 12 to 15 years old were vaccinated at the Cross River Center in Lowell, MA on May 13, 2021.  Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

All the Massachusetts parents who waited patiently (and not so patiently) for the chance to get their kids a COVID vaccine are breathing sighs of relief this month, because as of November 2, the CDC has officially authorized shots of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11. There are about 515,000 kids in that age group in the state.

Looking to get a vaccine for your little one as soon as possible? Here’s what you need to know.

Where can I get one?

Anywhere adults are getting vaccinated—like pharmacies and neighborhood health clinics—kids can now get vaccinated as well. As long as the clinic carries Pfizer, which is the only vaccine approved for kids at this point, you’re good to go. Appointments can be booked at the Vaxfinder website. If you have any trouble, you can also reach the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line by calling 211.

Are doctors giving them out?

Some are, yes. If getting one via your pediatrician is your preferred route, the state recommends calling to check if they’re offering it first.

What about clinics designed for kids?

There are some alternatives if you’d rather take your child to somewhere more kid-friendly. Several museums have stepped up for this task. That includes Boston’s Museum of Science, which announced it has several clinics planned for November 13 and 14 and December 4 and 5. Pre-registration is mandatory, which you can do on the Vaxfinder website. Parents can also get vaccinated, or get a booster shot, at the museum. Options outside Boston include Discovery Museum in Acton, the Springfield Museums, and the EcoTarium in Worcester.

Are there backlogs?

Thankfully many of the kinks we experienced during the initial vaccine rollout for adults in states across the country, including Massachusetts, have been worked out. Getting a vaccine appointment these days is actually pretty painless. Children in this age group get much smaller doses than adults and older kids, and Gov. Charlie Baker has said his office doesn’t “anticipate supply issues” for the kid-sized vaccines, and that anyone who wants an appointment should be able to get one in a day or two.

What if my child has special needs?

There are several vaccine clinics for people with disabilities, including those with sensory support needs or other concerns that require some extra care. Now that young children are eligible, the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Network-run program has added additional staff. Find a location and book an appointment on the Vaxabilities website.

What does it cost?

It’s completely free, just like for adults.

Do I have to fill out any paperwork for my child to get vaccinated?

Children can’t opt to get a vaccine on their own. The child’s parent or legal guardian needs to fill out this consent form, available in 14 languages, first. Or a clinic may have their own consent form, or ask for consent verbally.

How long does it take?

Show up on time, wait your turn, and plan to hang around for 15-30 minutes for observation before heading on your way.

How many kids are getting vaccinated?

A lot. Children ages 12-17 were cleared for vaccines in May. Already, state officials say 80 percent have received at least their first dose—a rate 20 percentage points higher than the national average.

What will this change at schools?

If more than 80 percent of children, staff, and teachers in a school are vaccinated, that school can apply for a waiver of the state mask mandate. As of late October only a handful of schools had done so.