A woman wearing a mask shows the band aid on her arm after getting a COVID-19 vaccine

While we all look forward to the days when COVID-19 is behind us, it's important to remember that the pandemic is not over.

With the COVID-19 vaccine now available to all Massachusetts residents age 12 years old and older, we encourage those who aren't vaccinated at this time to get the vaccine.

In addition, it's important for all of us to remain vigilant and to continue to do our part by following these critical steps:

  • Follow state and local guidelines on masking and social distancing.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Get tested when symptomatic or after a possible exposure.

By taking these steps, we can help keep COVID-19 numbers down and can look forward to more normal days ahead.

We're incredibly grateful for the dedication shown by our colleagues throughout the pandemic, as well as for the support we've received from our community.

COVID-19 Vaccinations at South Shore Health

The state of Massachusetts has reached Phase 3 of its vaccine distribution plan.

Currently, Massachusetts residents age 5 years old and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, with the appropriate vaccine depending on the age of the individual.

South Shore Health encourages all eligible residents to get vaccinated.

The COVID-19 vaccine is widely available across Massachusetts — please use the state's VaxFinder website to find your nearest vaccination site.

COVID-19 Vaccines for South Shore Medical Center patients

All vaccine clinics for South Shore Medical Center patients ages 5-11 years old are currently full.

We anticipate holding additional clinics in the coming weeks, and will notify patients on this page and on the South Shore Medical Center Facebook page as details become available.

The COVID-19 vaccine is widely available in Massachusetts, and we encourage patients to use the Massachusetts VaxFinder site to find their nearest vaccination site.

Curious about the COVID-19 vaccine for children? Jeremy Warhaftig, MD answers common questions.

At South Shore Health, we believe the COVID-19 vaccine remains the most effective tool against preventing severe illness and death from the virus.

We strongly encourage all eligible individuals that have not received their first dose to do so.

Third doses

Currently, the CDC recommends that patients who are moderately or severely immunocompromised receive an additional dose of the mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) at least 28 days after the completion of the initial vaccination series. For more details, please visit the CDC website.

Booster shots

The CDC has followed the FDA’s recent approval of booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for certain populations with these recommendations:

  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series.
  • People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series.
  • People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

We encourage all patients who fall within these categories to have a booster 6 months after their last vaccination.

Booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines have not been authorized at this time.

Where can I get a third dose or booster shot?

South Shore Health is not currently distributing third doses or booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine.

We encourage patients to receive a COVID-19 vaccine third dose or booster at their nearest vaccination site (including pharmacies and retail locations), which can be found by visiting the state's Vaxfinder website.

We are keeping a close eye on how future state and federal guidance will apply to all patients and will update the South Shore community on a regular basis.

Curious about the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Simone Wildes, MD, infectious disease physician at South Shore Health, and Todd Ellerin, MD, Director of Infectious Disease at South Shore Health, got together to hold a roundtable discussion on a variety of topics relating to COVID-19 vaccines.

You can view their question-and-answer sessions on the South Shore Health YouTube channel.

Information on COVID-19 Testing

Members of the community who want to be tested for COVID-19 should visit Health Express, part of South Shore Health.

Health Express offers send-out PCR tests that provide results via Quest Diagnostics' secure portal within an estimated 72 hours.

  • COVID-19 testing is available at each of our seven Health Express locations. Appointments are not required for COVID-19 testing.
  • Medical insurance will cover the test if you are: Exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough, fatigue, loss of taste/smell, difficulty breathing, or nausea; if you have a known exposure to someone diagnosed with COVID-19; or if you are testing with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for contact tracing purposes.
  • If you do not have symptoms and need the test for only for screening purposes, such as returning to school/work or for travel-related purposes, insurance will not cover the visit.
  • In the event that the test is not covered by your insurance provider, send-out PCR tests cost $180.00.

Patients who have a primary care provider at South Shore Medical Center and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should contact their provider to schedule a visit.

South Shore Medical Center patients who are not experiencing symptoms or who require tests for travel, work, or school-related reasons should schedule appointments to be tested at Health Express.

Additional Information for Our Community

Effective July 27, 2021, patients in South Shore Hospital's Inpatient Units and in the Emergency Room Observation, Annex, and West Units will be permitted two visitors at a time during visitation hours.

Visitors must be age 18 years old or older, with exceptions for certain patient populations.

Visitation hours are between 1 PM and 7 PM, seven days a week.

At South Shore Hospital, exceptions apply to patients in Labor & Delivery/Maternity, Special Care Nursery/NICU, and Pediatrics. Please click the link below for full details.

Any additional exceptions must be approved in advance by a patient's care team.

Additionally, we ask patients at South Shore Health's ambulatory sites to minimize visitors accompanying patients to appointments. 

Accommodations are made for patients with functional impairments or disabilities, and parents unable to obtain childcare.

Learn more about South Shore Health's visitor policy.

In recent weeks, providers at South Shore Medical Center have received a number of requests from patients seeking exemption letters for mask policies.

South Shore Medical Center providers and staff strongly believe that when you wear a mask, you protect others as well as yourself. Simply put, masks work best when everyone wears one.

Individuals age 2 years old and older should wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household.​

To clarify our policy on this issue, South Shore Medical Center does not write mask exemption letters for either school or employment, except for:

  • Patients who have a disability impacting their executive function, who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, for reasons related to the disability. This includes, but is not limited to, severe autism, advanced dementia, or genetic disorders resulting in significant cognitive impairment.
  • Patients for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the workplace risk assessment.

This policy is aligned with current CDC guidelines. We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

The recent surge in cases of COVID-19 has put tremendous strain on hospital resources throughout Massachusetts, including South Shore Hospital. As we continue in our effort to provide the appropriate level of care to all patients, we may occasionally need to transfer patients to another hospital, post-acute setting, or Alternate Care Site.

In most cases, these transfers will occur due to a lack of appropriate space/staff or because a patient needs a different level of care than we are able to provide at the present time.

If you or a member of your family is ill and visits the South Shore Hospital Emergency Department and a clinician determines you need to be hospitalized, you may be offered one of the following options:

  • You will be cared for at the hospital for the duration of your stay.
  • You will be transferred to another hospital.
  • You will be cared for at the hospital initially and then transferred to a specialized, fully staffed COVID-19 treatment facility in either Lowell or Worcester.
  • You will be cared for at the hospital initially and then transferred to our Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) program for continuation of your care at home.

Additionally, for patients being discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) with or without a COVID-19 diagnosis, the state has designated certain rules and locations for care in that setting. Our team can help educate you on these rules.

Per Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) guidance, it is appropriate for hospitals to transfer a patient to another facility – regardless of whether or not the transfer is to a location of the patient’s choosing.

Patients have the right to reasonable transfer requests, such as a specific area or facility, and we will do what we can to accommodate those requests within reason.

However, if we cannot accommodate those requests, it remains appropriate for the hospital to transfer the patient, even if the transfer site is not the patient’s preferred location.

All transfers will comply with discharge planning requirements.

South Shore Health offers multiple options for virtual care, allowing patients to get the care they need from the comfort of home.

Our virtual care options include:

  • Virtual visits for South Shore Medical Center patients in primary care, OB/GYN, and specialty services
  • On-demand virtual urgent care visits at Health Express
  • Virtual visits for outpatient occupational and physical therapy

Learn more about virtual care.

We recognize it’s important for cancer patients to have a caregiver or loved one with them for support during treatment. However, to respond to the evolving COVID-19 situation, we have reviewed our visitor policy to protect the health and safety of our patients, visitors, and staff.

We have enacted the following changes to our visitor policy at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital:

  • Visitors are not allowed to accompany adult patients, with very limited exceptions.
  • All people entering the Cancer Center will be screened for symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, sore throat, body aches, or rash.
  • Patients who have symptoms of a cold of flu should call their provider before arrival.
  • Patients must use the main entrance, with the second-floor entrance accessible to Cancer Center providers and staff only.

Additionally, the Cancer Center is now screening EMS transfers coming in, including patients and the EMS staff, while also decontaminating stretchers.

We appreciate your understanding and adherence to these changes. We will continue to make adjustments to our policies and procedures as needed so that we can maintain excellent care for our patients.

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