Stay Sharp: What You Need to Know About the Current COVID Vaccines

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

What Vaccines are Currently Available?

In the United States, there are two vaccines currently authorized to prevent COVID-19, one produced by Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and one by Moderna.

Are The COVID Vaccines Effective?

According to manufacturer Pfizer, their vaccine is reported to be 95% effective, while the Moderna vaccine has been reported to be 94.5% effective.

How Is the Vaccine Administered?

Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are two separate shots to the upper arm administered 21 days apart. The first shot is used to begin building protection, and the second shot will increase the protection against the COVID virus.

How Does the Vaccine Work?

Both currently approved vaccines are what’s known as mRNA vaccines and provide cells with instructions to make a “spike protein,” which is a protrusion found on the surface of a virus such as COVID-19. After this mRNA information is received by immune cells, cells use it to make a protein piece and the cell rids itself of the instruction. Cells then display the protein pieces on the surface and the immune system, recognizing it doesn’t belong, initiates an immune response and building antibodies. At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. For more information, view the CDC fact sheet.

What Are the Differences Between the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines?

The main difference between the two vaccines is regarding how they’re stored. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at a temperature of at least -70 ° C while Moderna's can be stored at a temperature of up to 8 ° C for 30 days (frozen to -20 ° C if stored longer). This results in a higher cost for the Moderna vaccine. The difference means the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be a better solution for larger institutions like hospitals, while Moderna's prove more beneficial to smaller facilities such as local pharmacies. Report.

What Are the Side Effects of the Vaccines?

Besides any pain, swelling, and redness associated with receiving the shot, you may experience flu-like symptoms of chills, headache, and exhaustion within a day or two after the vaccine is administered. These symptoms should dissipate within a few days, but it’s important to contact a doctor if they last longer or get progressively worse. Read more about COVID vaccine side effects on the CDC website.

Are Other Vaccines Being Planned?

As of December 2020, four other companies (AstraZeneca, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax) are running clinical trials for new COVID-19 vaccines. It’s been reported that while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has shown promising results in testing, the company is two months behind in its production cycle and will not meet expected dosage delivery until the end of April.

Is There Any Reason I Should Not Get the COVID Vaccine?

According to the CDC, there are a few instances in which it doesn’t recommend receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. If you’ve experienced either a severe or immediate allergic reaction (e.g., hives, wheezing, swelling, etc.) to an ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Similarly, if you’ve had a severe or immediate reaction to the first dose of a mRNA COVID vaccine, you should not receive the second dose.

The CDC also recommends those who’ve experienced allergic reactions to polysorbate or polyethylene glycol (PEG) to not receive a mRNA COVID vaccine. Even though polysorbate is not an ingredient in the current vaccines, it’s closely related to PEG, which is.

See a full list of vaccine ingredients by following the links below:

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