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 temporarily paused in the U.S.
Out of an abundance of caution, use of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine is temporarily paused in the United States. The CDC and FDA are investigating six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia) in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. These cases are extremely rare and the connection with the J&J vaccine is not yet confirmed.
What is CVST?
Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) is a rare form of stroke that occurs when a blood clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses. The clot keeps blood from draining out of the brain. As a result, blood cells may break and leak blood into the brain tissues. This causes a hemorrhage. CVST affects about five people per one million every year.
Who has been impacted?
Out of the more than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine that have been given in the U.S., six cases of CVST have been reported. All six cases occurred in women ages 18-48 years old, and symptoms occurred 6-13 days after vaccination.
In Greene County, we have distributed about 7,000 doses of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, including about 6,100 doses given at the vaccine mega event on April 8-9.
I got the J&J vaccine—what should I do?
Common side effects from the vaccine include mild flu-like symptoms which usually go away in a few days. These include feeling tired, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, nausea and pain or swelling at the injection site. If you experience severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of getting the J&J vaccine, contact your healthcare provider.
Should I still get vaccinated?
There have been no reported cases of CVST and low platelets with the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still available, safe, and effective. The benefit of getting vaccinated still far outweighs the risks of contracting COVID-19, especially in high-risk individuals.
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
Until more information is gathered on the level of protection that the vaccination provides against spreading COVID-19, we still ask that everyone use every available tool to help stop the pandemic. This includes the 3 Ws: wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands.
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.