The Perfect Enemy | Springfield epidemiologist: Now is time to vaccinate against flu, COVID
September 25, 2022

Springfield epidemiologist: Now is time to vaccinate against flu, COVID

Springfield epidemiologist: Now is time to vaccinate against flu, COVID  News-LeaderView Full Coverage on Google News

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The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization to the updated Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 boosters on Aug. 31, and on Sept. 2, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced those vaccines would be available in the state. 

It’s also the time of year people start getting their flu shots, leading to some common questions. 

What is the updated COVID-19 booster? Can I get it in Springfield?

The updated Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 booster shots protect against the original COVID-19 virus as well as the Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.

This booster will be replacing the previous booster, according to a press release from the Springfield-Greene County Heath Department. As of Sept. 3, BA.5 is responsible for 90% of the COVID-19 cases in the United States. 

More:White House announces new COVID-19 booster against omicron variant

The updated boosters will be available to the Springfield public starting this week. Those 12 and older can receive the Pfizer/BioNTech booster, and those 18 and older can receive the Moderna at least two months after their last dose.

To schedule an appointment for a booster through the health department, visit or call the COVID-19 center at 417-874-1211.

There will also be an appointment-only clinic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 24 at Kickapoo High School, 3710 S. Jefferson Ave., for those 12 and older.

Those who have received the Novavax vaccine are not yet eligible for a booster, according to DHSS.

Is it too early to get the flu shot?

While people are traditionally encouraged to get their flu shots starting in October, observation of flu seasons around the world indicates early infections, according to Kendra Findley, an epidemiologist with the SGCHD. The health department is about to start vaccinating its staff against influenza.

“Flu is unpredictable, but we do look at other areas of the world to see if we can guesstimate what’s going to happen here, and Australia had an early onset of flu as well,” Findley said, adding that Greene County has already seen one case of influenza A so far, and they anticipate seeing more.

It takes about two weeks for the body to develop antibodies that protect it against an influenza infection.

More:Mobile health unit in Webster Co. aims to go beyond flu shots, foster community connections

Why should I get the flu shot and the COVID-19 booster?

Autumn is prime respiratory illness season: People spend more time indoors and the air gets drier.

“This is that time of year when we see more respiratory viruses in general, because people are going into confined spaces,” Findley said. “Both (the flu and COVID-19) like to spread in a low-humidity environment, so it’s perfect when people get indoors and start using heaters to warm the environment.”

Findley also emphasized that while the flu shot won’t stop you from getting the flu, the same way the COVID-19 booster won’t stop you from getting COVID-19, these two vaccines do help protect you against severe illness.

“Neither vaccine, whether we’re talking about COVID or flu, they’re not a cure. They can’t magically protect you completely from getting the disease, but what they will do is protect you from getting severe disease, hopefully protect you from having to be hospitalized or a very negative outcome like death.”

But it’s not just about the individual outcome.

“(The vaccines) will hopefully slow the spread of disease in our community if enough of us get vaccinated,” Findley said.

Susan Szuch is the health and public policy reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow her on Twitter @szuchsm. Story idea? Email her at