Now there are three: Comparing the different COVID-19 vaccines available

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The first doses of the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine are on the way to Missouri. The state is expected to get 50,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine this week.

“We are incredibly appreciative to be receiving additional vaccines in Missouri, and we remain committed to making it available for a variety of vaccinators to get it into arms as efficiently as possible,” Dr. Randall Williams stated in a release.

Now that the FDA has given Emergency Use Authorization to three COVID-19 vaccines, many people are wondering which vaccine to get.

Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System said the answer is simple: Get the one you’re offered.

“At the end of the day, the best vaccine you get is the one in your arm,” Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System, said Monday during a Facebook Live.

Health experts agree with state and local leaders that there aren’t enough doses to vaccinate everyone who wants one. They’re asking everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine they are offered, instead of turning it down in hopes of getting a different brand.

“I suspect that if you looked at Pfizer or Moderna, you’d find remarkably similar data with one shot and if you did J&J, which they are now planning to do with two shots, it’d look a lot like Pfizer and Moderna,” Stites said. “I’m gonna bet they’re gonna end up much more similar than different.”

In the past, Stities and Dr. Dana Hawkinson have said that the single dose of the J&J shot is about the same efficacy as a single dose of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines. The difference is that with Pfizer and Moderna, people receive a booster. That’s what increases their effectiveness. A study is planned to see if the same is true with two doses of the J&J vaccine.

Even if it turns out that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine isn’t quite as effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19, it protects where it needs to.

“The very important part, and this is the part that we are so concerned about, 100% efficacy in preventing death for J&J,” said Hawkinson, director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System. “The big part of efficacy is really against the severe disease and keeping people out of the hospital and most importantly death.”

The CDC provides the following information about each vaccine:

PFIZER

Based on clinical trials, Pfizer was 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who received two doses. The Mayo Clinic says more than 89% of people with health conditions, such as diabetes or obesity, are protected from developing COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Type of vaccine:
    • mRNA
      • mRNA teaches cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Those antibodies protect against the vaccine
    • Does not contain:
      • Eggs
      • Preservatives
      • Latex
  • Number of shots:
    • Two shots in the muscle of the upper arm, 21 days apart
  • Who should get it?
    • Recommended for people 16 years and older
    • States determine other requirements and phases for vaccinating people that you may need to meet
  • Side effects at injection site:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Redness
  • Other possible side effects:
    • Chills
    • Tiredness
    • Headache
  • Ask your doctor if:
    • If you have had a severe allergic reaction, or an allergic reaction within four hours, to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine
    • If you have had a severe allergic reaction, or an allergic reaction within four hours, after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine

MODERNA

Based on clinical trials, Moderna was more than 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who received two doses. The Mayo Clinic says more than 90% of people with health conditions, such as diabetes or obesity, are protected from developing COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Type of vaccine:
    • mRNA
      • mRNA teaches cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Those antibodies protect against the vaccine
    • Does not contain
      • Eggs
      • Preservatives
      • Latex
  • Number of shots:
    • Two shots in the muscle of the upper arm, 28 days apart
  • Who should get it?
    • Recommended for people 16 years and older
    • States determine other requirements and phases for vaccinating people that you may need to meet
  • Side effects at injection site:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Redness
  • Other possible side effects:
    • Chills
    • Tiredness
    • Headache
  • Ask your doctor if:
    • You have had a severe allergic reaction, or an allergic reaction within four hours, to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine
    • You have had a severe allergic reaction, or an allergic reaction within four hours, after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine

JOHNSON & JOHNSON

  • Type of vaccine:
    • Viral Vector Vaccine
      • A modified virus delivers a gene that instructs our cells to make a SARS-CoV-2 antigen. This antigen triggers production of antibodies and a resulting immune response. There is no threat of causing illness in humans because the gene has been modified.
      • Same type used to make Ebola vaccine
  • Number of shots:
    • One shot
  • Who should get it?
    • Recommended for people 18 years and older
    • States determine other requirements and phases for vaccinating people that you may need to meet
  • Side effects at injection site:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Redness
  • Other possible side effects:
    • Chills
    • Tiredness
    • Headache
    • Nausea
  • Ask your doctor if:
    • You have had a severe allergic reaction, or an allergic reaction within four hours, to any ingredient in a viral vector vaccine

You will be given a vaccine card to keep, no matter which vaccine was administered. It will show the date, or dates, of your vaccination and which kind of vaccine you received.

If you have additional questions about the vaccines, contact your doctor.

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