Vaccines: Know the Facts. Inform your Choice.

Vaccines — or shots — are an important tool to stop COVID-19.

After months of research and testing, the first vaccines for COVID-19 are approved. Getting a COVID-19 shot will help prevent illness from COVID-19, save lives, and with time, help end the pandemic.

Vaccinating everyone will take time. While we wait for most of the population to get vaccinated, we need to continue wearing masks, practice physical distancing, and frequently wash our hands to stop the spread.

Distributing the Vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed in phases. At first, because of the limited number of doses available, government agencies are distributing the vaccine to priority groups. The goal is to decrease death and disease as much as possible.

Missouri is distributing the vaccine in three phases. In Phase 1, which has two parts (1A and 1B), vaccination started with healthcare workers and those Missourians who are most vulnerable to the virus. Missouri is now also vaccinating members in Phase 1B, Tier 3, which includes those who work in essential industries like education and the energy sector.

In Phase 2, vaccination efforts will focus on economic recovery and populations who that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

In Phase 3, the vaccine will be available to all Missourians. It is important to know that this may not happen for many months. Being patient, continuing safety steps like mask wearing, physical distancing and hand washing will continue to be crucial to protect your health and the health of others.

This plan may continue to change as the availability of the vaccine changes.

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What to Expect

When and where can I get vaccinated?

Because there are a limited number of doses available, the vaccine will be distributed in phases. Your place in line will depend on your age, your profession, and your health risks.

Many Missourians are now eligible to receive the vaccine, but supply is limited. Even when your group is eligible, you may need to wait for doses of the vaccine to be available in your area. You can preregister for a vaccine now, and you will be contacted when a vaccine appointment is available.

  • If you are in Phase 1A, look to your employer or professional association for instructions.
  • If you are in Phase 1B Tier 1, register with your employer or local public health department.
  • If you are in Phase 1B Tier 2, register with your care provider. If you do not have a regular care provider, register with your local public health department.
  • If you are in Phase 1B, Tier 3, register with your healthcare provider or local public health department. If you work for a large employer, such as a school district, your employer may coordinate with the local public health department to schedule a vaccination event.

At first, the vaccine will be distributed through hospitals, health departments, and government partners like CVS and Walgreens. Vaccines could eventually be available at other pharmacies, doctors’ offices, clinics, and public health sites.

What to expect when you get the vaccine

Side effects are a normal part of vaccination. After getting a vaccine, the body launches an immune response that can produce short-term symptoms. These symptoms are a positive sign that the body is building immunity. These side effects do not mean that you are sick with COVID-19.

Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines can include exhaustion or tiredness, muscle pain, chills, and fever. Side effects are more common after the second dose of the vaccine and usually last for one or two days.

These symptoms may make you feel sick enough to stay home from work. Talk with your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have about the vaccine and how you will manage potential side effects.

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Myths vs. Facts

Myth: It’s better to develop immunity – or disease resistance – naturally

Fact: Achieving immunity through vaccines is safer than achieving it through an infection (which is sometimes called “natural immunity”). Vaccines train your immune system to fight a virus without the risk of getting sick from that virus.

Vaccination may also be more effective. Research has shown that people who have had the COVID-19 vaccines had more antibodies than people who had been sick with COVID-19. Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

Myth: The vaccine can give you COVID.

Fact: The vaccine does not contain the live virus of COVID-19, so you will not get sick with COVID-19 from the vaccine.

You may experience side effects for a few days after receiving the vaccine. Side effects are a normal part of vaccination and are a positive sign that the body is building immunity. These side effects do not mean that you are sick with COVID-19.

However, it is important to know that it is possible to receive the shot and get infected from another source before your body has a chance to build immunity. It is important to continue washing your hands and wearing a mask even after you get each dose of the vaccine. Source

Myth: Vaccines contain harmful toxins and fetal cells.

Fact: COVID-19 vaccines do not contain harmful ingredients or fetal cells. However, fetal cell lines – cells that are reproduced from a fetus aborted decades ago – are sometimes used to develop and test vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed using fetal cell lines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines used fetal cell lines only in the testing stage to determine the efficacy of the vaccine. Some religious leaders have recommended that their followers choose a vaccine other than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if they have the option. Vaccines are created through a very rigorous process that involves lots of checks and reviews to ensure that they are not dangerous to people. You can view the full list of ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine and Johnson & Johnson vaccine through the FDA. Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

Myth: I don’t need to get vaccinated because I’m young and healthy.

Fact: There is no way to know how the virus will affect you, no matter your age. Even though older people are more likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19, you should still consider vaccination even if you are young and healthy. The FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for people over age 16, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for people over age 18. Talk with your provider about any questions you have about your risk for COVID-19. Source 1, Source 2

Myth: I don’t need to get vaccinated because I’ve already had COVID-19.

Fact: People who have been infected with COVID-19 can still benefit from receiving the vaccine. Because of the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the potential for reinfection, experts recommend that people who have had the virus be vaccinated.

Vaccination may also be more effective than immunity from infection (sometimes called “natural immunity”). Research has shown that people who have had the COVID-19 vaccines had more antibodies than people who had been sick with COVID-19. Source

Myth: I can’t get vaccinated because I’m pregnant or breastfeeding.

Fact: People who are pregnant can choose to be vaccinated.
Experts believe the approved COVID-19 vaccines are very unlikely to pose a risk to people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnant people were not allowed to participate in the first vaccine trials, but some accidental pregnancies did occur and there were no reports of problems with these pregnancies.

If you have questions about vaccination during pregnancy, talk with your healthcare provider. They will help you balance the risks of COVID-19 during pregnancy with the possible risks and side effects of vaccination.

More information about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy is available from the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Myth: The vaccine was developed too quickly to be safe or trustworthy.

Fact: COVID-19 vaccines went through very rigorous testing, reviews and approvals from both the public and the private sector before being authorized by the FDA. Operation Warp Speed — the public-private partnership initiated by the U.S. government to accelerate development of the COVID-19 vaccine — helped speed up the process to get the vaccine ready, which involved agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Defense. Still, the COVID vaccine took longer than the H1N1 2009 vaccine. Source 1, Source 2

Myth: The vaccine can alter your DNA.

Fact: The COVID vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, which stands for messenger ribonucleic acid. The vaccine delivers this “message” to a person’s cells. The cells read the message, so when they replicate, they have the information on how to shield themselves from the coronavirus. The mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus, or center, of the cell, where a person’s DNA is stored. Source

Myth: The vaccine can cause infertility.

COVID vaccines do not cause infertility. If you are currently being treated for infertility, you can still get vaccinated. All tests and studies so far have shown that antibodies created by the COVID vaccine do not affect fertility. In fact, several women who participated in the Pfizer vaccine trial became pregnant during the trial.

While there is some genetic similarity between a protein in the COVID virus and a protein found in the placenta during pregnancy, there is not enough similarity between them for the placenta to be affected by vaccine antibodies.

If you have questions about vaccination and fertility, talk with your healthcare provider. Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

Myth: The vaccine can cause neurological side effects like Bell’s Palsy.

Pfizer and BioNTech reported to the FDA that there is no evidence that the COVID vaccine causes Bell’s palsy or neurological side effects. People who have had Bell’s Pasly previously may get a COVID-19 vaccine. Source

Myth: I won’t have to wear a mask after getting vaccinated.

Fact: The vaccine is just one of many tools for us to beat COVID-19. It’s important to continue wearing masks even after receiving the vaccine for some time, as it takes time for our immunity to build up after the shot. More research is needed to understand if getting the shot can prevent people from spreading the virus to others. Source 1, Source 2

Myth: It isn’t worth it to get the vaccine because of the side effects.

Fact: While vaccines can cause side effects, most of the time they are very minor, such as lingering soreness around the injection site or a fever that lasts a day or two. The benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and having immunity against the virus far outweigh the potential side effects. If you do experience negative side effects, you can report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Source

Myth: I can’t get the COVID-19 vaccine because I’ve had an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine or other shots

Fact: In rare cases, some flu vaccines are known to cause allergic reactions to people with egg allergies because of an egg protein used in that vaccine. The COVID vaccines are not made with this egg protein, so those with allergies to eggs will be able to take this vaccine. If you are concerned about allergies or reactions to the vaccine, talk with your doctor about your concerns and stay for monitoring after you get the shot. Source 1, Source 2

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