ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- With the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine beginning to be rolled out in St. Louis this week and the Moderna vaccine expected soon after, News 4 is compiling a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the vaccines.
Missouri expected to receive an order this week of 51,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that will then go to 20 sites where it will be stored it at 94 degrees below zero. The following week, Missouri expects to receive an additional 63,675 doses from Pfizer and 105,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine, pending authorization.
Q: Who gets it first and when is my spot?
A: Vaccinations have begun on a very limited basis at Mercy Hospital, and other hospitals are expected to begin vaccinating their frontline workers in the coming days.
Residents in long-term facilities will get 70,000 of the Moderna vaccine during the week of Dec. 20-26.
“We will be able to vaccinate almost two thirds, if not more of our long-term care facility population probably starting December 28 and do it very quickly,” Dr. Randall Williams said.
Williams said CVS and Walgreens will activate teams to go out to vaccinate no matter where they are in the state.
Health care workers in long-term facilities will then be the second group to be vaccinated, Williams says.
Doses of the Pfizer vaccine will then go to Missouri’s 40-50 large hospitals to vaccinate health care workers the week of Dec. 20.
There won't enough vaccine for the general public for some time.
Chief Officer of Operation Warp Speed Gen. Gus Perna told Dr. Williams Missouri will have enough doses to vaccinate 2 million people by February.
In February, the hope is to then vaccinate 3,000,000 essential workers statewide. Otherwise healthy individuals will have to wait until spring.
Q: How will I know it is my time to get vaccinated?
Dr. Alex Garza with the St. Louis Pandemic Task Force said once the vaccines become open to the public, they should be available at your doctor's office, drug stores like Walgreen's and CVS and local urgent cares. The state and region are planning a campaign to make sure the general public is aware that the vaccines are available, whenever that moment comes.
Q: What do I do if I miss the second dose 21 days after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine?
A: Patients who do not receive the second vaccination dose at 21 days should still receive that second dose as soon as possible thereafter, the CDC said.
Q: Should you get the vaccine if you have already contracted COVID-19?
A: Yes, but for both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, you should defer vaccination until you have met criteria to discontinue isolation, according to the CDC.
Q: Can you receive the vaccine if you are pregnant?
A: The CDC says pregnant females are recommended for the vaccine depending on the individual’s risk of acquisition due to the level of community transmission, personal risk of contracting COVID-19 due to occupation or other activities, risks of COVID-19 to the mother and potential risks to the fetus, efficacy of the vaccine, known side effects of the vaccine and the lack of data about the vaccine during pregnancy. Special counseling and a 15-minute observation period after vaccination, if chosen, is recommended.
Q: If you have been vaccinated, can you stop from using other precautions?
A: No, according to the CDC. It will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.
Q: Am I protected after the first shot?
A: Not fully. Doctors say there will be some protection two weeks after the first dose, but peek protection will come four weeks after the second doze, Dr. Alex Garza said.
Q: Will this be a yearly thing like the flu shot? Will I need periodic boosters?
A: There's no certain answer to that yet, but medical experts seem to be leaning toward an annual shot like the flu vaccine. Viruses mutate over time and vaccines have be adjusted to be as effective as possible against current strains. It's probably not a one-vaccine-fixes-everything-forever approach. Medical researchers are still learning about the body's responses to the coronavirus and how the antibodies to it work. There's still quite a bit that's unknown.