Following approval from the Food and Drug Administration and a meeting among the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness this fall and winter. Updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna will be available in locations throughout Missouri this week.
Those who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two months can get an updated vaccine for protection this fall and winter.
“Just as in the previous years, the State of Missouri will not require anyone to be vaccinated against COVID-19; that’s not our role,” said Paula F. Nickelson, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “We work to ensure Missourians have access to factual information about the vaccines and access to vaccines themselves if they choose. We encourage each individual to discuss vaccination with their medical provider.”
Vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death, especially for individuals over age 65 or with weakened immune systems. Vaccination also reduces your chance of suffering the effects of long-term COVID, which can develop during or following acute infection and last for an extended duration.
Most Missourians can still receive a COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. Most health insurance plans will cover the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to the recipient. Individuals who do not have health insurance or with health plans that do not cover the cost can get a free vaccine from local public health agencies, select Federally Qualified Health Centers, and pharmacies (including Walgreens and CVS) participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program. Children eligible for the Vaccines for Children program also may receive the vaccine from a provider enrolled in that program.
This year marks the first fall and winter virus season where vaccines are available for the three viruses responsible for most hospitalizations – COVID-19, RSV and flu. In addition, DHSS encourages individuals to minimize virus spread by staying home when sick, practicing good handwashing, and seeking testing when ill to identify the infection for better protection of one’s family, coworkers, and community.