The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson Vaccines

Alexis Garcia, Reporter

As of March 15 there have been three COVID-19 vaccines distributed for use in the United States which include the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

All the vaccines are here to serve the same purpose in helping to fight off the coronavirus. However, there are some differences between each vaccine due to them being made by different companies. All of the information below is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine are both mRNA variants that are made to help our cells produce a protein, triggering an immune response which protects us from getting infected should the virus enter our body.

The Johnson & Johnson variant is a viral vector vaccine, where the vector (a harmless virus) will enter our cells and use the cell’s machinery to produce a spike protein which is a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. This will trigger the immune system to fight off what it thinks is a virus, allowing the body to recognize the virus that causes COVID-19 and protect you.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are designed to be taken with two doses. The Pfizer’s second dose is to be taken 21 days after the first and the Moderna’s second dose is to be taken one month (28 days) after the first. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only takes one dose. All vaccines do not contain eggs, preservatives or latex.

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are recommended for people aged 18 years and older, while the Pfizer vaccine is recommended for people aged 16 years and older. For all vaccines it is not recommended for use if you have had severe or instant allergic reactions to any of the ingredients they contain.

For the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, if you had a severe or an instant allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine you should not take the second dose. An instant allergic reaction can mean you’ve experienced hives, swelling or wheezing (respiratory distress) within four hours of getting the vaccine.

Common side effects for all three vaccines include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea throughout the body. This also means pain, redness and swelling in the arm you got the shot.

Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective in people without evidence of previous infection, the Moderna Vaccine was 94.1% effective and the Johnson & Johnson was 66.3% effective.

The clinical trials on three vaccines showed side effects that happened within seven days of getting the vaccine which are common and mostly mild to moderate. Side effects on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were more common in people aged 18-59 years than those 60 years and older. The side effects on the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines include fever, chills, headaches and tiredness which are more common after the second dose. The Moderna vaccine appeared to have high efficiency among diverse groups of age, race, sex, ethnicity and those with underlying medical conditions.

Although most side effects were mild to moderate, a small number of people on the trials for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines faced severe effects while some were sent to the hospital on both trials. A few people also died from the Pfizer trials but data on both the Moderna and Pfizer trials showed that those who got the vaccine were less likely to face more serious outcomes than those who got the saline placebo. Based on early evidence, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine might provide protection against asymptomatic infections.