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The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Missouri

  • En español | Missouri is now administering COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna to health care workers who are treating patients and to residents and staff at long-term care facilities, according to Phase 1A of the state’s vaccine plan.  
  • Missouri residents age 65 and over are included in Phase 1B of the vaccination plan, alongside people at least 18 years old with serious medical conditions, first responders and a group of essential workers that includes childcare staff, teachers and food and agriculture workers.
  • Vaccine news is changing quickly. Check this guide for updates in days ahead.
Holy Name Medical Center Administers Covid-19 Vaccine To Group 1B
Missouri is gradually opening COVID-19 vaccines to the state's top
priority groups.
Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

When can older adults get the vaccine? 

Potentially as early as February. Missouri is still working through its Phase 1A priority group, which includes long-term care residents and staff and patient-facing health care workers. Gov. Mike Parson said at a news conference Jan. 6 that the state should receive enough vaccine shipments by the end of January to cover frontline health care workers and long-term care facilities.

That would allow the state to move on to Phase 1B, which includes people at least 65 years old and people over the age of 18 with serious medical conditions like chronic kidney disease or diabetes, alongside first responders, teachers, critical manufacturing workers, food and agriculture employees and other types of essential workers.

Following Phase 1B, the state plans to begin vaccinating Phase 2 residents, including prisoners, homeless people and other groups considered to be populations at increased risk of serious complications from COVID-19. The general public would then have access to a vaccine as part of Phase 3. But Missouri health officials have said they are still finalizing distribution beyond Phase 1A, so plans could change.

“It is important to remember that the current demand for the vaccine is much greater than the supply,” Parson said.

AARP is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting COVID-19 vaccines because the science has shown that older people are at higher risk of death. 

Where can I get a vaccine?  

Initially, only at certain hospitals and long-term care facilities, since health care workers and long-term care residents and staff are the only groups currently being vaccinated. 

Once more vaccine doses are available, Missouri plans to distribute vaccines through hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmacies and certain health centers and clinics. The state is also considering drive-through vaccination clinics and turning gymnasiums into vaccination centers, similar to blood drives. State health officials plan to launch a vaccine map on Missouri’s COVID-19 vaccine website that will allow residents to search for vaccination locations close to them.

How do I know when I’m able to get a vaccine?

The state is regularly updating its tiered priority groups on its COVID-19 vaccine website. The governor’s office has also been releasing statements and updates on Missouri’s vaccine rollout.

AARP recommends that you talk to your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

I’ve heard that some vaccines require a second shot.

The initial COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these vaccines, you’ll need a follow-up dose a few weeks later to be effectively immunized. “What you have is you get some degree, not optimal, but some degree of immunity a couple of weeks after the first dose,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in December. “That’s not optimal. After the second dose, you get optimal immunity anywhere from seven to 10 days after the second dose.”

You may receive a vaccination card or printout that tells you where, when and which type of vaccine you received, according to the CDC. Missouri’s interim vaccine plan says you may also receive postcards, emails or phone messages reminding you to return for a second vaccine dose after you’ve received your first.

The CDC has launched a web tool called v-safe that lets you sign up for text message reminders for your second vaccine appointment and report possible side effects.

How will nursing home and other long-term care residents get the vaccine? 

Vaccine rollout has already begun for long-term care residents in Missouri. The federal government has contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer the COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to long-term care residents and staff. The two national drugstore chains say that more than 48,000 of the 50,000 skilled nursing and assisted living communities in the U.S. are participating in the program.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination? 

AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. But the CDC says vaccine providers may still charge a fee for giving someone a shot. Missouri officials have said the administration fee may be charged to Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance providers but that no one in the state will be billed for a vaccine, including people who do not have health insurance. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has said the vaccine will be administered free of charge to Medicare beneficiaries, with no copays. Some health insurance companies have also announced that there won’t be out-of-pocket costs for policyholders.

There are already reports of scammers purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

How long does immunity last after I get vaccinated? 

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like the flu shot.

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated? 

Yes. Experts still need to learn more about the protection the vaccines provide under “real-life conditions,” the CDC says. It could take your body a few weeks to build up immunity after the second dose of a vaccine. And while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective at preventing symptoms of COVID-19, it’s not yet clear whether someone who’s been vaccinated can still catch the virus and transmit it to others.

The vaccine is just one tool that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC says it could take months for the population to build up immunity and continues to recommend preventive measures such as face masks and social distancing. 

AARP has also called for ongoing monitoring of vaccines, once they are authorized for public use, to identify any risks that weren't evident in the expedited development and review process.

This guide was originally published on Jan. 8. It was updated on Jan. 12 with new information about federal vaccine recommendations.

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