COVID-19 Vaccine Guide

A plain language guide to the vaccine. 

What is the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is a medicine that helps prevent you from getting sick from COVID-19. COVID-19 is an illness caused by a virus. The virus can move from person to person through germs. The vaccine can help you fight off these germs and not get sick. It is given to you through a shot in your arm.

There are are several companies that make the vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna are the most common. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots for the vaccine to work. There is also a vaccine called Janssen now available. It only requires one shot. You have to

make an appointment at a location labeled “Johnson & Johnson” to receive this single shot vaccine. Otherwise, when you get your first shot, you will be told whether you are getting Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine, and when you need to come back for your second shot. There might be other kinds of vaccines in the future. The vaccines currently available have been tested and proven to be safe and effective.

Can I get the vaccine now?

If you are 12 or older, you can be vaccinated. A parent or guardian must accompany minors. COVID-19 vaccinations are available to Mississippi residents only, or to people who work in Mississippi.

Learn more about who should or should not be vaccinated here

What is an “underlying medical condition?” Does that include my disability?

If you have one of the following health conditions, you are qualified to get the vaccine: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Down Syndrome, heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies), immunocompromised state (also known as a weakened immune system)from an organ transplant. Obesity, severe obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, diabetes, and smoking also qualify as reasons to get the vaccine. Current rules also allow for “other medical conditions” to be a reason to get the vaccine, as determined by your medical provider. There are a number of other conditions, including having a disability, that might allow you to receive the vaccine now. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or want to know if you should get the vaccine now.

Currently, you just have to confirm you have one of these conditions when you sign up for your appointment. You do not have to say which one and you do not have to show proof.

How do I get the vaccine?

There are many locations throughout Mississippi where you can get the vaccine. You can get a free vaccine through the Mississippi State Department of Health; you can find MSDH vaccination sites here

You can get the free vaccine at your local pharmacy, like Kroger, Walmart, Walgreen’s, or CVS. You can find vaccine providers near you at

Your doctor can most likely give you the vaccine in their office; check with them about availability, and whether you will be charged for the visit (the vaccine itself is free). 

How much does the vaccine cost?

The vaccine is free.

If you go to a doctor’s office to get your shot, there is a small chance you would have to pay a fee for the visit, but you will not pay for the vaccine.

Is the vaccine safe? Will it give me COVID-19?

Each vaccine has been tested by scientists and approved to be safe. Before you get the vaccine, you will be given information on the medicine and can learn about its safety. You can also talk to your doctor if you have concerns. The vaccine will not and does not give you COVID-19. It protects you from the virus. You may feel tired, have a fever, or aches after the shot for a few hours. This is normal and is a way the vaccine shows it is working.

If you have had a reaction to a vaccine in the past, or are allergic to an ingredient in the vaccine, talk to your doctor to decide if it is safe for you to get the vaccine.

Can my child get the vaccine?

Children 12 and over are eligible to get the vaccine in Mississippi.

Do I have to get the vaccine?

At this time, the state will not make you get the vaccine. A doctor might encourage you to get the vaccine for your safety, but they cannot make you to get it. An employer can make vaccination a requirement, but there are a lot of exceptions related to any disability (or for reasons like religious beliefs). Even if you cannot receive the vaccine because of a disability, your employer cannot exclude you from the job unless there is no way to provide a reasonable modification (like working from home, working separately, or wearing a mask).

What happens after I get the vaccine?

You are much less likely to get the COVID-19 virus, or give it to someone else, after receiving the vaccine. However, it is still possible you could get the virus or give it to someone else, even if you don’t have symptoms.

What if I need more information?

For more information or assistance, please contact Disability Rights Mississippi at 601-968-0600.

The mission of Disability Rights Mississippi is to promote, protect and advocate for the legal and human rights of all people with disabilities, and to assist them with full inclusion in home, community, education and employment.

DISCLAIMER: This webpage is for informational purposes only. It is not intended, nor should be construed, to create an attorney-client relationship between Disability Rights Mississippi and any person. Nothing in this publication should be considered legal advice.