Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ
We continue to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine every day. We will update this FAQ as more information is made available. For more vaccine information, please visit CoMo.gov/CovidVaccine.
The first supply of COVID-19 vaccine began being distributed in central Missouri on December 15, 2020. This supply is limited right now, and will be for some time. These first doses are being allocated to front-line health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. This first phase is likely to take a few months, but vaccine supply will increase over time and we expect that all adults should be able to be vaccinated in 2021. (To view the categories of priority populations in these first phases, please see the chart below).
A vaccine for COVID-19 is only one of the ways to slow the spread of the disease. Because the supply of vaccine will be limited at first, we’ll have to keep doing everything we know works best to slow the spread of the pandemic. Wearing a face mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, washing your hands frequently, and staying home if you are sick will still be the most effective ways to protect our friends and family until the majority of people have been vaccinated.
Right now, hospitals are providing COVID-19 vaccine to their health care personnel and most their patients at highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. As more vaccine is distributed by the federal and state government, there will be thousands of vaccination providers, including retail pharmacies, doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other health centers.
CDC is working with pharmacies to provide on-site COVID-19 vaccination services to residents and staff in long-term care settings, including skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities where most residents are older than 65. Vaccinations are not currently available at the health department itself, but we will update you when/if that changes.
Yes. Vaccines have to pass extensive trials and meet rigorous safety and effectiveness standards before they are widely distributed. Both COVID-19 vaccines were studied in tens of thousands of people, the study results were reviewed by independent advisory committees, and these committees then gave advice on who should receive the vaccine. Finally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed all of this information to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks, and gave authorization for the vaccines to be used.
Although the COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time, that’s because the global scientific community has focused their efforts on combating COVID-19, not because they’ve cut any corners. Researchers were also able to use existing science and technology, which made it possible to develop vaccines faster than any methods previously used.
Vaccines teach your body’s immune system how to fight an invader, generally by 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 the COVID-19 vaccine, the first two vaccine candidates draw on decades of research and results with mRNA (messenger RNA) technology.You’ve seen lots of images of the coronavirus, with those characteristic spikes. These vaccines use mRNA to teach your body to recognize those spikes and to fight off the virus.
As with most vaccines, you may experience some mild side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. You might not feel great the next day — or even a few days — and may have soreness in your arm, a mild fever, chills, tiredness, headache, and nausea or diarrhea. It may feel like you have the flu, and it may disrupt some of your normal daily activities. None of that is fun, but these side effects are normal signs that the vaccine is working. Neither of the COVID-19 vaccines have been found to have any severe side effects.
Because we don’t know yet how long natural immunity lasts after recovering from COVID-19, you should plan to get vaccinated.
The vaccines’ clinical trials show that the vaccines are safe for people with all kinds of conditions, including those who are immuno-compromised, have heart conditions, diabetes, cancer, and many others. In fact, because these put you at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, it is particularly important that you get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner if you have questions about whether you should get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Though the mRNA technology used in the vaccine is known to be safe and effective for people who are pregnant or lactating, none of the COVID-19 vaccine trials included people in those groups. If you are pregnant or lactating, talk to your health care provider about the benefits and risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccination is not mandatory at this time. It is strongly recommended, but it is not required by federal, state, local, or tribal governments. Private employers, however, may choose to require it of their employees when the vaccine is widely available.
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.
The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease, and experts don’t know yet what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19.
Yes, you can get vaccinated in Boone County even if you do not live in Boone County. Currently, we are focused on vaccinating the groups designated as priority “1A” by the state: patient-facing healthcare providers, and the residents and staff of long-term care facilities. That includes people who work in Boone County but live somewhere else. We know that a lot of people come to Boone County for medical care; in that case, we encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider once vaccines become available for the group you fall in to.
When you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, you quarantine by keeping yourself away from other people.
Because even if you have been infected, you are not likely to show symptoms until 5 or more days after you were exposed. Even if you never become ill, you can easily spread COVID to your family, friends, and community. We all have a responsibility to slow the spread of the pandemic, and remaining in quarantine after a possible exposure is crucial to protecting your family and friends — and getting back to normal sooner.
If you come into contact with a virus, you don’t get sick immediately. It takes some time for the virus to invade your body and replicate itself. The time before you start to show symptoms is the incubation period. The average incubation period for COVID-19 is 5 days, which is when many people will start to show symptoms. But the most current research shows that many people who have COVID-19 don’t show symptoms for as long as 14 days after infection. Regardless of when symptoms show up — and many people become infected without ever showing symptoms — you can transmit infected particles to other people at any point from day 1 to day 14. That’s because as soon as you are infected with a virus, your body starts producing thousands of virus particles that you can transmit to others when you speak, cough, sneeze, or even breathe heavily.
The first day of quarantine is the day after you were last exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Day 0 is considered the last day you were exposed and the next day is considered to be Day 1 of your quarantine period. If you have close contact with a person who is infected with COVID-19, begin quarantining immediately. If you have close contact with the person again while they are infected — which is likely if you live in the same house, for example — your 14 days of quarantine start over from the last day you were exposed.
If you have been exposed, a full 14 day quarantine is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and is still the safest option. However, IF you have NO symptoms, quarantine may end after 10 days, or after 7 days with a negative PCR test — provided you can wear a mask at all times, stay at least 6 feet away from people at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, and isolate immediately if you show any symptoms.
If you have no symptoms and are hoping to end your at-home quarantine after 7 days, you will need to get tested on or after Day 5 of your quarantine. Getting tested before Day 5 could result in a false negative. Talk to your doctor or testing site to make sure you’re getting a PCR test because a PCR test is more reliable for people without symptoms.
- Ending quarantine early is only an option if you have NO symptoms of COVID-19.
- Continue monitoring your symptoms and wearing a mask at all times around others for the full 14 days after exposure.
- If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any time during your 14 day quarantine period, please isolate immediately and get tested.
- Avoid contact with anyone at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 for the full 14 days.
- All other quarantine protocols, including what defines a close contact and guidelines for continued exposure, remain in place.
You basically need to wear a mask everywhere that you may be around other people. If there is any place you cannot wear a mask, including while at home if others live with you, you will need to separate yourself from others. If there are activities that prevent you from wearing a mask or bring you in close contact with others — eating, taking care of small children, swimming, cooking or serving food in crowded places — then you should not participate in those activities until your full 14 day quarantine period has ended.
Yes. Our best researchers and medical experts have found that always wearing a mask around those outside our household is imperative to slowing the spread at all times, not just during the 14 day quarantine. Assume you could infect others at any time, and wear a mask and stay farther than 6 feet away from anyone you don’t live with.