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Before Christmas, Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, signed the standing order for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine administration after final review of recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a press release.

“The first week of vaccinations among health care workers in Missouri went extremely well,” said Williams. “We are appreciative of the health care systems for quickly executing their plans in order to administer the Pfizer vaccines as efficiently as possible. This is just the beginning, and there are thousands of health care workers still to be vaccinated. Our supply from our federal partners will dictate the speed at which these vaccinations can continue to occur and we will continue to be flexible and adapt to any changes that may be presented to us.”

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Dec. 18, is a series of two doses administered four weeks apart. It is now advised that each person should be monitored by their  health care provider for 15 minutes following vaccination for both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Below are common questions answered in a state Department of Health and Senior Services release using guidance issued for use of the Moderna vaccine.

What do I do if I miss the second dose of the Moderna vaccine 28 days after the first dose?

"Patients who do not receive the second vaccination dose at 28 days should still receive that second dose as soon as possible thereafter."

Should you get the vaccine if you have already contracted COVID-19? 

"Yes, but for both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, you should defer vaccination until you have met criteria to discontinue isolation."

Can you receive the vaccine if you are pregnant?

"Yes, 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."

Should you have a pregnancy test or antibody test prior to receiving the vaccine?

"Routine testing for pregnancy or antibody tests is not recommended in relation to vaccine use."

Can you get this vaccine if you are in quarantine due to an exposure with a positive COVID-19 case?

"You should delay your vaccination if you have had a known SARS-CoV-2 exposure until your quarantine period has ended unless residing in a congregate setting such as a health care/long-term care facility, correctional facility, homeless shelter, etc."

Can you get the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time? 

"There is no information on co-administration of this COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines. The Moderna vaccine should be spaced at least 14 days from any other vaccine."

Who is not recommended for the Moderna vaccine?

"Those under age 18. An individual who has experienced a serious reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to a prior dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components. For more information on vaccine components, refer to the manufacturer’s package insert."

If you have been vaccinated, can you stop from using other precautions?

"No. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available 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."

The most commonly reported side effects of vaccines, which typically lasted several days, were: pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection, nausea and vomiting and fever.

"Of note, more people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose. No specific safety concerns were identified in subgroup analyses by age, race, ethnicity, underlying medical conditions or previous SARS-CoV-2 infection," states the DHSS release.

“We’ve been incredibly encouraged by how many people are choosing to be vaccinated,” said Williams. “Shipments received from Pfizer and Moderna this week will continue to serve the most vulnerable to COVID-19 — our patient-facing health care workers and long-term care staff and residents.”

Residents and providers are encouraged to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines in Missouri at www.MOStopsCovid.com.

“We encourage Missourians to take time to learn about the vaccine, get their questions answered and consider vaccination to help protect themselves and their loved ones. We can see the day when vaccinations, along with social distancing, wearing face masks and good handwashing, will get us to a better place together,” said Williams.

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