Health Department medical director addresses questions about COVID vaccine


Vaccines can be a tricky topic—the science around them can be confusing, misinformation around vaccines is all over the place, and sometimes knowing who or what to believe can be difficult.

Your Springfield-Greene County Health Department is always a good source of information on vaccines—what the latest science is telling us as well as where, when and how to get the vaccines you and your family need.

Dr. Nancy Yoon

This is especially important this year as we’re all thinking about the COVID-19 vaccine becoming available across the country. You probably have questions about the vaccine itself, where you can get it and maybe even if you should get it.

Vaccines are one of our safest and most effective ways to combat illness, and they have to pass rigorous safety and effectiveness standards before they’re ever widely distributed. Vaccines have been studied in tens of thousands of people. The study results are reviewed by independent advisory committees. These committees then give advice on who should receive the vaccine.

Although the COVID-19 vaccines you’ve been hearing a lot about were developed in record time, that is a reflection of the global scientific community’s collective efforts to combat COVID-19—not any sort of cut corners.  Researchers were able to use existing science and technology from other vaccines, which made the development of this one faster than previously used methods of making vaccines.

Vaccines teach the body’s immune system how to fight an invader. Just how the vaccine works depends on the type of vaccine and the type illness its 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 the next time you encounter it, your body is prepared to fight it off without making you terribly sick.

In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, the first two vaccine candidates 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.

Want to know more? You can always find the latest news and information on the COVID-19 vaccine at or give us a call Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 417-874-1211.

Dr. Nancy Yoon is the medical director for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.


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