Vaccine Information

Below is the most current information about the flu and COVID-19 vaccine.

Flu and COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement

For Students

Harvard requires all students to be “up-to-date” on their COVID vaccination and to receive an annual flu vaccine. Students who are not up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations per the CDC definition and have not received a flu vaccine in the fall of 2022 will have a registration hold on their accounts. In anticipation of Spring enrollment, HUHS highly encourages students to plan ahead and get the new COVID booster and flu vaccine prior to their Spring enrollment period.

To be up-to-date, all students need, at a minimum, to get the new COVID booster. To check what up-to-date means for you, go to the CDC’s section on When am I up-to-date?

For Employees

Harvard highly recommends that every employee remains up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations, per the CDC definition, and receives the flu vaccine. Harvard still monitors compliance of Harvard-paid employees’ COVID-19 primary series status.

Fall Vaccine Clinics at HUHS

HUHS will be offering flu and COVID-19 vaccine options during the vaccine clinics during the Fall. HUHS flu and COVID-19 clinics will be available starting September 19th. While walk-ins can be accommodated for the flu vaccine, an appointment is required to receive the new COVID-19 booster. To make, change, or cancel an appointment, do so through the HUHS Patient Portal

Log into the HUHS Patient Portal to make your vaccine appointment

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Update

Effective April 23, 2021, the CDC and FDA recommend the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine resume in the United States after a short pause in its administration. However, women younger than 50 years old should be made aware of a rare risk of blood clots with low platelets following vaccination and the availability of other COVID-19 vaccines where this risk has not been observed. Read the CDC/FDA statement.

What You Need to Know about the COVID-19 Vaccine

Adapted from Key Things to Know about the US COVID-19 Vaccination Program found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website

  1. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a top government priority.
  2. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. 
  3. Similar to other vaccines, you may experience some side effects after receiving the injection. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection.
  4. The cost of the vaccine is covered by the government.
  5. COVID-19 vaccines are one of many important tools to help us stop this pandemic. Once you've received your vaccine, continue to follow local, state, and Harvard guidelines if on campus for mask-wearing and social distancing.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

As a student, will I be required to get the new bivalent COVID vaccine?

Harvard will require all students who will be on campus to be up-to-date with their COVID vaccines. This means that students are required to receive the new bivalent COVID vaccine to ensure they are up-to-date. Students must have a minimum of 2+ months since their last COVID booster or second dose of a primary series. 

Is there a cost to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is no cost to you to receive the vaccine, but your insurance company may be billed for the administration of the vaccine, which is covered by your insurance.

What is the guidance on COVID-19 booster shots?

The CDC recommends a booster shot for certain people who meet specific criteria. View the CDC recommendations.

What happened with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

The CDC recommended a temporary pause for use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to a report that out of 6.8 million doses administered, there have been six cases of a rare type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thromboses with low platelets reported in six women under 50 years who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  It is important for the FDA and the CDC to be responsive to any reports of adverse side effects and there are many systems in place to find, report, and investigate these concerns. Further analysis of these cases was completed to determine any potential significance as vaccine safety is taken very seriously.  Effective April 23, 2021, the CDC and FDA recommend that use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine resume in the United States. However, women younger than 50 years old should be made aware of a rare risk of blood clots with low platelets following vaccination and the availability of other COVID-19 vaccines where this risk has not been observed. Read the CDC/FDA statement.

I've received the J&J vaccine. Should I be concerned?

Out of 6.8 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine that have been given, six cases of blood clots have been reported. All six cases were women age 18-48 years, and the problem was a very rare blood clot disorder. Symptoms occurred 6-13 days after receiving the vaccine. These six cases represent less than one per million of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses administered. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe for most people and the CDC and FDA have recommended that the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine resume in the United States. However, women younger than 50 years old should be made aware of rare risk of blood clots with low platelets following vaccination and the availability of other COVID-19 vaccines where this risk has not been observed. All vaccines are continually monitored for safety by the CDC and FDA, and they investigate adverse events, even if these events are unrelated to the vaccines themselves.

What symptoms should I look for if I received the J&J vaccine?

If you received your vaccine in the past few days, you could expect flu-like symptoms from the vaccine. If you received the vaccine more than a week ago and now have severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath, you should contact your doctor for further evaluation and testing. HUHS clinicians are aware of this issue and are familiar with the CDC guidance regarding the evaluation and treatment of this specific blood clot. 

I received my vaccine at HUHS. Should I be concerned about J&J?

To date, HUHS has not used the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Out of over 180 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines given in the US, there have been no reports of this rare blood clot disorder.

I'm on birth control & received the J&J vaccine. Should I worry?

There is no evidence that oral contraceptives played a role in causing blood clots in the six women identified as having serious side effects from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Are the COVID vaccines safe, and should I still get one?

There are three COVID vaccines approved for use in the United States: Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. There has been robust reporting on vaccine side-effects, and the CDC is strongly recommending that all Americans receive the vaccine. Large trials have shown that the vaccines prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19. Out of over 180 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine given in the US, there have been no reports of blood clots after the administration of these vaccines. 

What should I expect after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. As with most vaccines, the common side effects are pain and swelling on the arm where you got the shot. You may also have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These side effects usually go away in a few days.

The primary series vaccine is given in two doses, either 3 or 4 weeks apart, depending upon the vaccine we receive. It is expected that you will receive both doses, Further information can be found on the CDC website about what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine and on this CDC handout.

What if my second COVID-19 vaccine is not given 3 or 4 weeks apart?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their recommendations on the timing of COVID-19 vaccine doses on February 10, 2021. They note that the second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, since this is not always feasible and delays are inevitable, they report that the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be administered up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is still no need to restart the series. You have some protection against COVID-19 after the first vaccine.

Can my companion/caregiver also be vaccinated?

If you are currently eligible and would like to have your caregiver who is escorting you to also be vaccinated, we recommend you visit https://www.maimmunizations.org/ to arrange for an appointment at a state-run vaccination clinic. Only the state-run clinics have the authority to vaccinate companions who are not in the eligible population.

How do vaccines work?

While there are many different types of vaccines, most vaccines work by imitating an infection. This helps the body understand how it would fight off the virus if you were ever exposed. When you receive a vaccination, your body will produce different types of cells and antibodies that fight off the imitation. They will leave behind what is sometimes referred to as “memory cells." These cells will remember how to fight off the infection. Oftentimes it can take a few weeks for your body to go through this process, so make sure to get your vaccinations when recommended. Currently, there are three main types of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.

What does the vaccine mean for the COVID-19 pandemic?

It will be important that as many people as possible receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It will be necessary that everyone, even vaccinated people, continue to wear masks properly, socially distance, and limit person-to-person interactions until we are told otherwise by public health professionals. Getting vaccinated will not give people a free pass to socialize, as they may have still been exposed and could potentially pass the virus on to others around them. Please continue to stay vigilant in your preventative behaviors and we can get through this together.

How do I find credible information on vaccines on the internet?

There is a lot of information on the internet about vaccines. It can be hard to untangle sometimes, especially if you’re unsure what to look for. Here are some tips:

Where can I get additional information about the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is extensive information on the CDC website about the vaccine.