As the COVID-19 vaccines enter a third month of distribution and additional pop-up vaccination sites open, there’s some glimmer of a largely vaccinated society by fall 2021.
The Centers for Disease Control and Rochester Regional Health experts like Dr. Nadia Kousar, Medical Director of Infectious Disease for the Eastern Region of Rochester Regional Health, recommend that you get whichever vaccine is made available to you first.
"All three vaccines are effective in preventing serious complications and death from COVID-19," said Dr. Kousar. "That's why we recommend getting whichever vaccine you're able to access, as soon as you're able to."
But, for those wondering the difference, we’ve collected a side-by-side comparison of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for emergency use.
The first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was released for emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA on February 27, 2020.
Clinical trial: The vaccine was developed through a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial in individuals 18 years of age and older.
Type of vaccine: Like Johnson & Johnson’s Ebola vaccine (approved and in use since 2019), this is adenovirus-based: a well-established vaccine platform based on decades of research.
Efficacy: Initial research showed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also protects against variants that are being discovered in other countries and has been filed with the World Health Organization as an international vaccine candidate.
Side effects: Because the trial was recent, Johnson & Johnson will continue to track long-term immunity and side effects in participants - but so far, side effects have been minimal and there’s no sign of fading immunity.
One of the first two (double-dose) COVID-19 vaccines, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was released for emergency use by the FDA in December 2020.
Clinical Trial: Developed through a double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial with 44,000 participants.
Storage: Must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, a challenging temperature to maintain throughout transportation and delivery.
Side Effects: Participants in the study had no serious side effects—although many vaccine recipients reported moderate, flu-like symptoms after their second dose.
Efficacy: There is no sign that immunity is fading, but Pfizer plans to monitor trial participants for two years after their final dose.
One of the first two (double-dose) COVID-19 vaccines, the Moderna vaccine was released for emergency use by the FDA in December 2020.
Clinical trial: Developed through a double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Storage: Must be stored at cold-chain conditions of -20 degrees Celsius--a fairly standard temperature, and may be a better option for rural or harder-to-access communities.
Side Effects: Side effects were generally mild-to-moderate and included pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, and muscle pain.
Efficacy: There is no sign that immunity is fading, but Moderna will continue to follow up on its current clinical trials.
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