Vaccines: Know the Facts. Inform your Choice.

Getting Vaccinated to Protect Yourself and Your Family

Vaccinations – or shots – train your immune system to fight a virus without the risk of getting sick from that disease.

There are three COVID-19 vaccines available now. All three vaccines are free and offer strong protection against severe illness and death from COVID.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccination will help prevent illness from COVID-19, save lives, and with time, help us end the pandemic and return to normal life.

COVID Vaccinations

All Missourians 5 years old and older are now eligible for free COVID vaccinations.

Vaccinations are given at hospitals, public health departments, health centers, doctors’ offices and pharmacies. Many places do not require appointments and are willing to give you a vaccination on a walk-in basis, when you are ready. Call ahead of time to find out specific requirements for the place where you are planning to go get vaccinated.

Find a Vaccine

What to Expect

At Your Vaccination Appointment

At your appointment, you will receive the vaccination in your upper arm. Nurses will keep an eye on you for 15 to 30 minutes after you are vaccinated to make sure you do not have a reaction to the vaccine.

It is important to know that the COVID vaccine is free for everyone. Vaccinators may ask you for your insurance information, but you do not need to have health insurance to get the vaccine, and you will not receive a bill for the vaccine.

After Your Vaccine Appointment

Side effects are a normal part of vaccination. After getting a vaccine, your body creates an immune response that can lead to soreness in your arm and other mild side effects. These symptoms are a positive sign that your body is building immunity. These side effects do not mean that you are sick with COVID-19.

Side effects of COVID-19 vaccination can include tiredness, muscle pain, chills, and fever. Your arm may also be sore for a day or two. Side effects are more common after the second dose of the vaccine, but usually go away after a day or two.

For some people, the side effects may make them feel too sick to go to work. Talk with your doctor or nurse about any concerns you have about the vaccine and how you will manage potential side effects.

Learn more about what to expect from the COVID vaccine.

When You Are Fully Vaccinated

After you receive the vaccination, it will take time for your body to build immunity against the virus that causes COVID-19. You will be considered “fully vaccinated”

  • 2 weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after your single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Once you are fully vaccinated, you can safely resume some normal activities without worrying about getting sick. Continue to follow CDC guidance for fully vaccinated people.

While vaccination significantly decreases your chances of getting sick from COVID-19, you may still be able to spread the virus. Continue taking steps like masking and physical distancing to protect people who are not fully vaccinated.

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 your 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 vaccination, but get infected from another source before your body has had a chance to build immunity from the vaccination. It takes about two weeks for the body to develop immunity after the vaccination, and you will not be “fully vaccinated” until after both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

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 5 years old and older, 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 still get 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: The CDC recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding people get vaccinated. If you have questions about vaccination during or after pregnancy, talk with your doctor or nurse. They will provide the information you need to make the best possible decision for yourself and your family.

More information about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy is available from the CDC, 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, developing the COVID vaccine took longer than developing 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 a “message” to your cells. The cells read the message and learn how to shield themselves from the protein spikes in coronavirus that would otherwise attack and enter your healthy cells where they would begin to replicate and cause damage. The mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus, or center, of the cell, where your DNA is stored, so it cannot change your DNA. Source

Myth: The vaccine can cause infertility.

Fact: 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 doctor or nurse. Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

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

Fact: There is no evidence that the COVID vaccine causes Bell’s palsy or neurological side effects. People who have had Bell’s Palsy previously may get a COVID-19 vaccine. Source

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

Fact: People who are fully vaccinated can safely do some activities without masks, including gathering outdoors with fully vaccinated or unvaccinated people, or dining outdoors with people from multiple households.

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. 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 people with allergies to eggs will be able to get vaccinated against COVID. If you are concerned about allergies or reactions to the vaccine, talk with your doctor or nurse and stay for the 15-30 minute monitoring period after you are vaccinated. Source 1, Source 2

Frequently Asked Questions

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