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Vaccine Q&A

Where can I get a vaccine?

The vaccine is widely available throughout the area. To find locations, visit Clay County Public Health Center's Where to Get Vaccinated page for a list of local vaccinators.

If you received a vaccine through Operation Safe and need a replacement vaccination record, visit if you are a resident of Clay County, or use to access your records through the patient portal.

After the vaccine

Q: When am I considered fully vaccinated?
A: People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after a single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Q: When do I get a booster shot?
A: All individuals ages 5+ may receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose five months after completion of the primary mRNA vaccine series (Pfizer and Moderna).

Q: Once I’m vaccinated, do I still need to wear a mask, practice physical distancing, etc.?
Yes. It is important to continue wearing a mask, maintain physical distance of six feet, wash hands often and avoid crowds. Visit the CDC's website for the latest guidance.

Q: Which lasts longer: immunity after getting COVID-19 or protection from COVID-19 vaccines?
A. The protection someone gains from having an infection (called “natural immunity”) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Because this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Current evidence suggests that getting the virus again (reinfection) is uncommon in the 90 days after the first infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
Q: Can I get COVID after getting the vaccine?
A: No vaccine can guarantee 100% protection. Additionally, you may already be infected and not know it when you get the vaccine — even if you recently tested negative. That infection can continue to develop after you get the shot but before its protection fully takes hold, and then show up in a positive test result.
The vaccines help prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Vaccines and Safety

Q: What COVID-19 vaccines are available?
A: There now are three vaccines approved for use in the U.S. - Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Q: Are the vaccines safe?
A: Yes. Beyond the 75,000 clinical trial participants, millions of Americans have been vaccinated. Serious adverse events such as allergic reactions have been rare. While no one can predict the long-term events this early, based on previous vaccine experience we don’t anticipate anything serious.

Q: How were the vaccines developed so quickly?
A: The vaccines were produced in record time. However, the speed did not come with short cuts to safety. For Pfizer and Moderna, the time saved in production occurred because an mRNA vaccine template already existed, and sequencing the coronavirus genome was not complicated. Also the government poured unprecedented resources into vaccine research and development. The clinical trials were conducted precisely as they should have been at every step. Trial enrollment was quick due to the raging pandemic.

People groups – prioritization, timeline

Q: Who is currently eligible to receive a vaccine?
A: All Missouri residents age 5 and older.

Q: Can children receive the vaccine?
A: Yes. Children ages 5 to 11 can be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine. FDA and CDC approved the booster dose for children 5-11.

Q: Can pregnant or lactating women receive the vaccine?
Numerous U.S. OB/GYN professional societies issued a joint statement that supports access to the vaccines for pregnant and lactating women and encourages conversations between these women and their providers. Thousands of pregnant or lactating women have received vaccine in recent weeks. There are no known fertility concerns for women of child-bearing age. For more information, review recommendations from ACOG, ASRM or the CDC.

Q: I’ve already had COVID-19. Should I still be vaccinated?
A: Even if you already had COVID, you are likely to benefit from the vaccine. If you are not actively symptomatic or in isolation for COVID, you may receive the vaccine. If you received a monoclonal antibody infusion, you should wait at least 90 days from your infusion date before receiving a vaccine.

Q: Will I be required to get the vaccine for work?
A: Please check with your employer for your specific requirements.

General vaccine questions – doses, side effects, etc.

Q: What is the benefit of the COVID vaccination?
A large-scale population vaccination effort will help:

  • Decrease death and serious disease in society, helping us get back to near-normal functioning much sooner.
  • Decrease the inadvertent spread from asymptomatic people to others.
  • Lessen the chance for people to acquire a symptomatic COVID infection and prevent them from getting seriously ill even if becoming infected.

Q: How much will the vaccine cost?
Missourians cannot be denied a vaccine due to lack of means or insurance. While the federal government is providing the vaccine at no cost to vaccinators, the vaccinators may charge an administration fee. This fee has not yet been determined and should be covered by most insurance companies.

Q: Do COVID-19 vaccines use live virus?
A: None of the COVID-19 vaccines in use or development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19.

Q: Can I get COVID-19 from being vaccinated?
A: The vaccine is designed to teach our immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine protects you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness. Sometimes vaccine recipients report minor symptoms. This is normal and a sign that the body is building immunity, not an indication that a person has acquired COVID-19.

Q: Does getting an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) alter your DNA?
A: The messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. Therefore, it has no effect on a person’s DNA. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not use mRNA.

Q: What are the vaccines’ side effects?
Individuals who receive the vaccine may experience some level of discomfort in the form of fever, injection site reaction, fatigue or aches. To date, all side effects were reported to be short term and resolve on their own. Less than 2% of recipients developed severe fevers. Independent data committees reported severe side effects (those that prevent daily activities) for the Pfizer trial to be fatigue and headache and those for the Moderna vaccine to be injection site pain, fatigue, muscle or joint pain and headache.

Q: How will the vaccine be administered?
: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots at least 21 (Pfizer) or 28 (Moderna) days apart. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot.

Q: What if something comes up and I cannot make it back at the 21- or 28-day mark?
A: Schedule your second shot as close as possible to the recommended date. If you are unable to make it on the scheduled date, schedule it for as soon as possible thereafter.

Q: What happens if I don’t receive the second dose of the vaccine?
A: You may not receive the maximum intended benefit of two doses of the vaccine. Contact your primary care physician about your individual situation to determine next steps.

Other helpful resources: