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How Missouri's latest vaccine registration tool works, and how it doesn't

You'll still want to keep signing up everywhere possible if you want a COVID-19 shot

ST. LOUIS — A new tool for registering for COVID-19 shots in Missouri is meant to help give more people access to the vaccine, but many are saying they are confused about what they’re actually signing up for with the “Missouri Vaccine Navigator.”

Is it a centralized state pre-registration system that means you don't have to keep putting your name on every list you find? Is it going to tell you where to go for a vaccine?

The short answer: it’s really one more place to sign up for the vaccine and pre-register, but it does not replace signing up at local health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, and other vaccinator sites.

“Missouri vaccine navigator was really introduced to Missourians as another place to allow people to register, learn about what their or what their eligibility is, and then access an appointment when it's their turn,” said Lisa Cox, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Right now the navigator's primary use is for the state's mass vaccination events, but Cox says they continue to expand the tool.

“We do look to keep bringing more providers into the navigator and events into the into the Navigator so it'll become more useful as time goes on,” she said. 

Since many Missourians have shown their willingness to drive hours away for a vaccine, the system will alert you to vaccine distribution events in other parts of the state as well as those close to home, Cox said.

In the same way a hospital or health department will contact you once you’ve preregistered with them and invite you to schedule an appointment, the Navigator will alert you to vaccination events and invite you to sign up for a spot. Cox says it’s important to sign up everywhere you can, but only schedule one appointment once you’re contacted.

If you sign up on the navigator site and you're currently eligible for the vaccine, you'll be alerted to future mass vaccination events — but if you're not eligible for a shot yet, you won't hear much until you are. Missouri is currently vaccinating those in Tier 1A as well as 1B, Tier 1 and Tier 2.

“Everyone will have an opportunity eventually to be vaccinated pretty close to home. We just have to have a little bit of patience with the process,” said Cox.