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COVID-19 in Boston

Updated March 14, 2024 - Following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) release of updated recommendations for how people can protect themselves and their communities from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) wants to remind Boston residents to stay up to date on vaccines, especially those who are 50 and older with other health conditions or are immunocompromised, and to wear a mask in public when sick to protect others. 


It is important to keep in mind that people can still spread viruses even when feeling better. Taking enhanced precautions, including wearing a mask in public when sick, are especially important for protecting those who are most at risk, including adults aged 60 and older, children younger than 5 years old, pregnant people, and people with chronic medical conditions. Enhanced precautions include: 

  • Wear a mask: 

    • For five days after being sick. 
    • If you must leave the house while sick. 
    • If you are at high risk of severe illness. 
  • Have COVID-19 rapid test kits available at home to test if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Free test kits and walk-in and by-appointment test sites are still available throughout the City. 

  • Seek treatment from a trusted healthcare provider if you test positive for COVID-19 or flu and are at high risk for severe disease and/or illness.  

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  

  • Regularly disinfect and clean high tough surfaces.  

  • Increase indoor ventilation and air circulation, even cracking open a window helps increase airflow. 

For in-dept Massachusetts guidelines, please refer to the MA Department of Public Health's recommendations.

BPHC's Promise to Equity

The COVID-19 pandemic has unfairly affected Boston's Black, Latinx, immigrant, and other communities of color. Systemic racism, including in healthcare and vaccine development, also contributes to concerns and mistrust of the COVID-19 vaccine. We're committed to making information available in multiple languages, through multiple methods, and on an ongoing basis. Our goal is to help our residents make informed decisions.

What to Know About COVID-19

General COVID-19 Info
  • Everyone ages 6 months and older should be vaccinated against COVID-19 and stay up to date with their vaccines. Staying up to date on your vaccines is essential. People are best protected against infection, severe illness, hospitalization and death when they are up to date with their vaccines.
  • COVID-19 vaccines offer the best protection against becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19

For more information about COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, please visit the CDC's website.

More Vaccination Recommendations

 

It is important to keep in mind that people can still spread viruses even when feeling better. Taking enhanced precautions, including wearing a mask in public when sick, are especially important for protecting those who are most at risk, including adults aged 50 and older with other health conditions, children younger than 5 years old, pregnant people, and people with chronic medical conditions. Enhanced precautions include: 

  • Wear a mask
    • For five days after being sick. 
    • If you must leave the house while sick. 
    • If you are at high risk of severe illness. 
  • Have COVID-19 rapid test kits available at home to test if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Free test kits and walk-in and by-appointment test sites are still available throughout the City. 

  • Seek treatment from a trusted healthcare provider if you test positive for COVID-19 or flu and are at high risk for severe disease and/or illness.  

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  

  • Regularly disinfect and clean high tough surfaces.  

  • Increase indoor ventilation and air circulation, even cracking open a window helps increase airflow. 

For in-dept Massachusetts guidelines, please refer to the MA Department of Public Health's recommendations.

Ways to stay informed

Sign up for text alerts

Text BOSCOVID to 888-777 to opt-in for alerts in English. We also have text alerts in 10 other languages.

Call the Mayor's HealthLine

If you have questions about COVID-19 or accessing care, call 617-534-5050 or toll-free at 1-800-847-0710.

WHY SHOULD I GET VACCINATED?

The COVID-19 vaccine is an important and effective tool to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

COVID-19 vaccines offer the best protection against becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19. Even though COVID-19 can be mild, lasting health problems from the disease (known as “Long COVID”) can occur. That's why everyone ages 6 months and older should get vaccinated.

WHY SHOULD I VACCINATE MY CHILD?

The COVID-19 vaccine helps keep your family safe and healthy.

Even though COVID-19 is usually milder in children, some children can get very sick or develop lasting health problems. Children can also spread the virus to family members who are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine protects your child getting very sick and helps prevent serious short- and long-term complications of COVID-19. Not only that, vaccinating your child can help keep them in childcare and school, and makes it safer for them to enjoy the activities they love.

Wearing a well-fitting mask minimizes your likelihood of contracting and spreading the virus. BPHC strongly recommends wearing a mask: 

  • When you are indoors, including when using public transportation, in government buildings, and in crowded outdoor venues. 
  • If you are at higher risk for severe illness, such as people who are not fully vaccinated, seniors, and those who are immunocompromised.  
  • If you are around those who may be at high risk for severe COVID-19, especially if you may have been exposed to COVID-19 recently. 

Choose a mask that fits snugly against your nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Due to the more transmissible omicron variant, consider wearing a disposable surgical mask, or if you will be in close contact with the public, a KN95 mask.

 

Follow BPHC’s guide on how to put on a mask.

You can also learn how to safely put on and remove gloves.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and may include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rashes 

In elderly, chronically ill, or debilitated individuals such as residents of a long-term care facility, symptoms of COVID-19 may be subtle such as alterations in mental status or in blood glucose control.

If you have emergency warning signs, call 911.

Emergency warning signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain or pressure in chest
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds
  • Confused or finding it hard to wake or stay awake
  • Other serious symptoms

If you test positive for COVID-19, call your health care provider right away and begin isolating from others. Contacting a health care provider is important because there are now treatments available for COVID-19.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate for a minimum of five days, regardless of vaccination status. However, there are individuals who may remain infectious after that isolation period. 

Contact your healthcare provider immediately, even if your symptoms are mild - you may be eligible for COVID-19 treatment. Don't delay treatment must start early to be effective. Some treatments must begin within five days of your first symptom. 

 Early treatments that prevent severe illness and hospitalization are available. Options include: 

WHERE TO GET VACCINATED: MAP OF VACCINE SITES

Residents are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider, visit a local pharmacy, or visit the CDC’s Vaccine Finder to find an accessible vaccine clinic.

 

For Older Boston residents: NEED HELP BOOKING AN APPOINTMENT?

Older Boston residents that are interested in the COVID vaccine and who need help with online registration or transportation should call 3-1-1 for help. Ask to be connected to the Age Strong Commission for vaccine assistance. Eligible Massachusetts residents can also call 2-1-1 if they need help for registration.

Community Conversations: Flu and COVID-19 – Dr. Bisola Ojikutu
Credit: Boston Public Health Commission

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