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COVID-19 Questions with Melissa Strout

Published by Zoe Campbell on

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues in Triangle’s residential program and across the country, many individuals have questions about the immunizations. Since finding a reliable and trustworthy source of information can be difficult, we decided to ask our Chief Integrity Officer, Melissa Strout, a few frequently asked questions that many people may have. She has been working hard to keep our community up-to-date on the latest information coming from the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for the past year! If you’d like to learn more, we are including a list of resources at the bottom of the page.

  1. How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

The CDC provides a great explanation on how the vaccine works. “The body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight the virus in the future. It takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination.”

  1. How effective are the current vaccines? 

Pfizer-BioNTech: 95% effective
Moderna: 94.1% effective

  1. How many doses do you need? How far apart are they? ​

Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is two shots 21 days apart, and Moderna’s vaccine is two shots 28 days apart.

  1. What is the difference between the available vaccines? (i.e. Pfizer vs. Moderna) ​

The major differences really come down to the temperature at which the vaccines are stored, the days apart between the first and second shot, and the ages recommended for vaccination (Moderna is 18 and older whereas Pfizer-BioNTech is 16 and older). In addition, the ingredients of each vaccine is different – more information on this can be found on the CDC website.

  1. Is the vaccine safe for everyone? ​

Based on what I have read, people under the ages of 16 (for Pfizer-BioNTech) or 18 (for Moderna) should not receive the vaccine. Those who are allergic to the ingredients in the vaccine also should not receive the vaccine. 

  1. Who can get the vaccine now in Massachusetts? ​

Those who are eligible based on Phase I are able to receive the vaccine now, as well as those 75 years of age and older (per Phase II). 

  • Where can people get the vaccine? ​

The best way to determine a location for vaccination in MA is to go to and search based on your zip code. The vaccine is being provided free of charge. Keep in mind that there have been some delays in scheduling appointments as more people across the state are getting access to the vaccine. Please review the information that you need to bring with you to your appointment in advance.

  1. What are the common side effects? ​

Common side effects include pain, swelling, redness at site of shot, chills, tiredness, and headache.   

  1. Can I change my behavior after the vaccine or should I continue to wear a mask, avoid congregating in groups, etc.? ​

We must all continue to wear our masks, exhibit physical distancing, and wash our hands frequently. Experts are learning more everyday about the protection the vaccine provides outside of trials. 


Stay up to date on the latest information about the COVID-19 vaccines:

Learn more about the Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccine rollout and timing:

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