Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Now that COVID-19 is no longer a pandemic, the disease is still serious enough to require a vaccination booster.

KGVO News spoke to Sara Heineman, Health Services Director for Missoula Public Health on Friday about the COVID-19 vaccine and the upcoming vaccination clinics in western Montana. She said the CDC has strongly recommended that all Montanans receive a COVID-19 booster.

The Health Department 'Strongly Recommends' that Everyone get a COVID Booster

“On September 12, the CDC voted to recommend COVID boosters for the 2023-2024 season for everyone six months and older to help protect against serious illness,” said Heineman. “While there are very few things in our life that are 100%, these are effective vaccines, but not 100 percent, and so they can reduce the likelihood of you getting the disease and they can also reduce the severity of the disease if you do get sick, and can help protect those that are around you who might not be able to be vaccinated for some reason due to a medical contraindication.”

Heineman acknowledged that many still don’t trust the efficacy or safety of the COVID vaccine, but said it has undergone extensive testing.

Heineman said the COVID Vaccine has Undergone Extensive Testing

“They do go through very rigorous studies and research protocols for any kind of medication administration through the FDA, and so the standards that are upheld are the same that they would for any regular vaccine,” she said. “That vaccine has to go through the process to be determined that it is safe and that has been determined. In addition, the COVID boosters for Moderna and Pfizer have been FDA approved for 12 and up and so we know that those are now federally regulated vaccines.”

Heineman said there can be some side effects to a COVID vaccination.

She Described some Possible Side Effects of the COVID Vaccine

“They do have side effects, and those are normal,” she said. “You can see side effects with most medications that you might use for a variety of reasons. The side effects of those COVID vaccines could be soreness at the site, in fact, your arm might be really sore for a day or two. You might have a little redness where the needle went in, and some people have a more robust immune response meaning that they have a fever or chills or body aches or they don't feel very well for a couple of days, and those are considered a normal immune response to those vaccines.”

Heineman said there are several COVID-19 vaccination clinics coming up for western Montana.

“On the fifth of October we will be at the Lolo Community Center from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and then on the 18th we will be doing a Missoula Community Clinic at the fairgrounds in the Home and Arts Building, where we did our back to school clinic, and that again is a walk up clinic so anybody is welcome to join us,” she said. “Then on October 27, we will be at Imagination Brewing for another community clinic, so people are welcome to come join us and get a shot and a brew.”

People should bring a photo ID, their insurance card, and their COVID vaccination card if they have it. For those without insurance, there is a sliding fee scale for kids ages 18 and younger who qualify for VFC and for adults who qualify for the Bridge program.

LOOK: Here's where people in every state are moving to most

Stacker analyzed the Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey data to determine the three most popular destinations for people moving out of each state.

Gallery Credit: Amanda Silvestri