Update on Different COVID-19 Vaccines

Ibrahim Ghazal ‘22

Currently, there are three Covid vaccines that are authorized and recommended by the centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These vaccines are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen. Pfizer-BioNTech is an mRNA vaccine, which allows cells to produce a protein that triggers an immune response inside the human body. The immune response then produces antibodies to protect the human body against the virus. The Pfizer shot is given in the muscle of the upper arm. Pfizer requires 2 shots and each of them is given 3 weeks apart.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is recommended for individuals who are 16 years of age and older. Common side effects consist of pain, redness, and swelling in the arm where the shot was given. Additionally, general side effects include tiredness, headache, fever, nausea, chills, and muscle pain are among the rest of the common side effects. According to clinical trials from the CDC, the Pfizer vaccine proved to be 95% effective against COVID-19 in people without indication of prior infection. Minor side effects, such as fever, headaches, tiredness, and chills were most common after the second dose of the vaccine.

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Moderna is another option that several individuals have. Similar to Pfizer, Moderna is an mRNA vaccine that requires 2 shots. The shots are administered 28 days apart from each other and are given in the muscle of the upper arm. According to CDC, the common side effects of the Moderna vaccine are identical to those of the Pfizer vaccine. According to the CDC, the Moderna vaccine proved to be 94.1% effective against those who received two doses and weren’t infected prior to the vaccine. Additionally, the Moderna vaccine was effective for people of different ages, sex, ethnicity, and medical conditions.

Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine is a viral vector. According to the CDC, viral vector vaccines use an altered variant of a different virus as a vector to provide instructions, in the form of a gene, to a cell. Johnson & Johnson only requires one shot to be administered, and it is recommended for individuals who are 18 years of age or older. The common side effects are also identical to Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

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However, the CDC reported that side effects were less likely in people who are 60 years and older compared to those who are 18-59 years old. Johnson & Johnson was effective 66.3% of the time, in clinical trials, against COVID-19 in people 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine. Immunity to the virus increased 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine. The CDC recently reported that AstraZeneca and Novavax are currently undergoing Phase 3 clinical trials, and could possibly be authorized and recommended by the CDC in the upcoming months.