Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective ways to combat illness. Three vaccines for COVID-19 have been granted Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is recommended for teens and adults except individuals who are allergic to the vaccine or ingredients in the vaccine. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is authorized for those 12 and over; the Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines are authorized for 18 and older. Individuals who are immune-compromised, pregnant, or breastfeeding, should check with their doctor before getting any vaccine.
When and where can I get the vaccine?
Vaccine is available for anyone 12 years old and older. You can schedule an appointment or attend a walk-in vaccine event. Click here for available events and appointments. You can also call the COVID-19 call center at 417-874-1211 for assistance.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is committed to providing a free COVID-19 vaccination experience to all Missourians, including those without insurance. No person can be billed for the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination providers may charge an administration fee to insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, if applicable in your situation. Uninsured Missourians will be able to receive the vaccination regardless of their health insurance status.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Vaccines have to pass rigorous safety and effectiveness standards before they are widely distributed. The vaccines have been studied in tens of thousands of people, the study results are reviewed by independent advisory committees, and these committees then give advice on who should receive the vaccine.
Although the COVID-19 vaccine was developed in record time, that is a reflection of the global scientific community’s collective efforts to combat COVID-19—not an indication that any corners have been cut. Researchers were able to use existing science and technology, which made vaccine development faster than previously used methods of making vaccines.
How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?
Vaccines teach the body’s immune system how to fight an invader. Exactly how the vaccine works depends on the type of vaccine and the type illness it’s fighting, but the general idea is to introduce something that helps the body recognize the virus in the future. When your body responds to the vaccine, it learns how to fight that illness so that the next time you encounter it, your body is prepared to fight it off without making you terribly sick.
In the case of COVID-19, both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines. You’ve seen lots of images of the coronavirus, with those characteristic spikes. These vaccines teach your body to recognize those spikes and to fight off the virus.
Other common questions
No single preventative measure is 100% effective. Think of each of the prevention measures as a slice of swiss cheese: each layer provides some protection, but there may be small holes. As you stack the layers (watching your distance, washing your hands, wearing a mask) you significantly reduce your risk of disease transmission. Getting a vaccine adds another—very strong—layer to that defense.
Herd immunity occurs when a high percentage of the community is immune to a disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness), making the spread of this disease from person to person unlikely. Herd immunity protects the most vulnerable members of our population. If enough people are vaccinated against dangerous diseases, those who are susceptible and cannot get vaccinated are protected because the germ will not be able to “find” those susceptible individuals.
Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. Our goal is for at least 70% of our community to be vaccinated against COVID-19.