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.
All three vaccines are 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 16 and over; the Moderna and Janssen vaccines are authorized for 18 and older. Individuals who are immune-compromised, pregnant, or breastfeeding, should check with their doctor before getting any vaccine.
Use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine resumes in the U.S.
After a thorough review by the CDC and FDA, use of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine has resumed in the United States. Read the full CDC/FDA statement.
Appointments are being made available regularly through several organizations. Individuals are encouraged to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Please keep in mind that slots do fill up quickly. If you have any issues with scheduling an appointment, contact the health department’s COVID-19 call center at (417) 874-1211. Click here for more information on registering to receive vaccine.
Phase 3, which makes COVID-19 vaccines available to all Missouri residents, is now open.
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.
What to know after receiving the vaccine:
The COVID-19 vaccines stimulate a strong immune response that may cause mild and temporary symptoms in many individuals for 1-3 days. These are normal signs that your body is building protection:
- pain and swelling at the injection site
- muscle aches
Once you are fully vaccinated, you:
- are not required to quarantine or get tested following a known exposure, as long as you remain asymptomatic.
- can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or physical distancing.
- can visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing a mask or physical distancing.
- can travel domestically without pre- or post-travel testing or self-quarantine.
- can travel internationally without pre- or post-travel testing or self-quarantine (unless required by the destination).
- should still follow the 3Ws when in public—wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands often.
- should still practice preventative measures like wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or those who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease, or when visiting when unvaccinated people from multiple households.
- should still avoid medium and large in-person gatherings.
- should still get tested if you experience COVID-19 symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Initial supply of both vaccines is limited, so distribution in Missouri will be broken into phases. We are currently vaccinating individuals who are eligible through Phase 1B-Tier 3. Visit the Missouri Department of Health's website for more information on who is currently eligible.
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.