COVID-19: What Vaccines Are Available Now & What Are The Differences Between The Two?


Are there more vaccines on the horizon? Do I have a choice of what vaccine to take? Is one vaccine better than the other?

These are but a few of the burning questions we are grappling with right now, including whether or not you personally are going to get the vaccine when it becomes available?

There is no doubt that the available vaccines were brought to the public in record time. However; because of the apparent urgency, the largest joint collaboration of all time has occurred. That is a good thing. But, I also know that we all have questions that we want answered. Many of the questions cannot be answered until the data is in and enough people have been vaccinated to correlate the vast amounts of information finally flowing in. Prior to the two main vaccines becoming available, our questions were somewhat different than they are now. We were asking for answers that there was not enough data to provide. Same is true here.

I will begin by telling you that these vaccines were not created from scratch. There was a wealth of information and data available from the formulation of previous vaccines. While perfecting this novel coronavirus vaccine required vast knowledge and innovation, the general basis was already available.

Think about the yearly flu vaccine for example. While there is no way to know what the prevalent strain will be, scientists use previous data and strains for formulation of our yearly vaccines. This is the reason you see varying degrees of efficacy for the flu vaccines.

Before we discuss the various COVID vaccines, here is a comforting thought.  Many of you are worried about the variant strains appearing and possibly rendering the current COVID vaccines less effective. If the variant strains become dominant, it would take quite some time before the current vaccines would become less efficacious. Secondly, if that should happen, it is comforting to know that the two existing approved vaccines could be easily tweaked.

Now, mutations of this virus have been occurring since the beginning of this pandemic. The most prevalent mutation which has been discovered in the United States has been determined to spread more quickly but not make people sicker. As more mutations are discovered and analyzed, so may the recommendations being made to the general public.

Again, we simply cannot demand answers that are not readily available.

As of Friday, January 22,2021, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that the new variant strain will become dominant by the middle of March.

 

Because this strain is 50% more transmissible, it is even more vital to MASK UP!

Due to the lack in supply of vaccines, masking could possibly prevent any additional preventable deaths.

The two vaccines approved are Pfizer BioNtech and Moderna. Both are considered mRNA vaccines.

NOTE: ALTHOUGH REPEATEDLY ASKED AND ANSWERED, THERE IS NO LIVE VIRUS USED IN EITHER OF THE CURRENTLY APPROVED VACCINES.

We have heard from many subscribers either stating they were not willing to get either of the available vaccines because they believe that these two EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) vaccines would alter their DNA or, hesitant because they are worried about side effects.

My job is to not give you my personal opinions, but to give you the facts ascertained through extensive research and collaboration. I am personally weighing my comorbidities against the deadliness of the virus.

Neither the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine alters your DNA. In fact, the molecule known as mRNA is destroyed by your body after making extra virus proteins. This process is designed to elicit a stronger immune response.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective against the new variant being detected in Europe and now, the United States. One of the benefits of mRNA vaccines, is that should a new variant reduce the effectiveness of the two current vaccines, it would be relatively easy to modify.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer a high efficacy rate. After the second dose, you will likely have 95% immunity. It is important to remember that you can still contract the virus during this time, and whether or not you can still spread the virus is another unknown at this point in time.

As far as side effects go, the known side effects are minimal thus far, but also being monitored very closely.

Further, if you have a history of allergic reactions or, a history of anaphylaxis, your physician will make the determination of whether or not you can receive the vaccine.

YOU STILL NEED TO WEAR YOUR MASK! Even after your second dose, it will take approximately two additional weeks for maximum immunity.
There are three additional vaccines in Phase 3 clinical trials:
  • AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine
  • Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine
  • Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccines

Jannsen’s vaccine is due to seek emergency use authorization by the end of January. This vaccine if approved will benefit many, as it does not have to be stored at the colder temperatures. And, this vaccine is a one dose vaccine.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is different than the Pfizer and Moderna, as this one is a viral vector vaccine, showing approximately a 70% efficacy rate. Viral vector vaccines take longer to manufacture, but offer protection similar to a flu vaccine. While very close, they are still undergoing trials to determine dosage and timing of the shots. One of the advantages of not having to be kept at such cold temperatures to ship and maintain, this vaccine will allow physicians to store and administer faster and without the logistical issues of only preparing five vaccines at a time.

 

Another question that is being asked frequently is whether or not you can mix vaccines to get your two doses? The answer is NO. You must stay with the same manufacturer for both vaccine doses.

Because of the protocol for distribution of the limited vaccines available (seniors, high-risk groups, nursing home residents, essential workers and the medically vulnerable), it is unlikely if you are not within those groups that a vaccine will be available to you any time soon. Unfortunately, the same measures you have hopefully been practicing will have to continue. It is also necessary to consider how many total doses will be required and the timeline to accomplish worldwide distribution and vaccination.

As data starts being compiled, it may become apparent that one of the vaccines will be determined to work better in certain groups of people. This type of data will be crucial in determining answers to the questions many of us have. Including our highly esteemed scientists.

I would love to have a choice of which vaccine I get whenever I am able to. I do not believe that is likely considering the supply and demand issues that we are experiencing as deaths continue to rise. Maybe later. With the current timeline, we have the time to make an informed decision.

It is my fervent hope that with additional vaccines being approved, many of the urgent issues with access will start to decline and the overall vaccine distribution will improve.

It is easy to point fingers as to why things are not happening at the speed we think they should. I truly never imagined that they would have not only one, but two effective vaccines out by the end of 2020. Patience is not in abundance with all that we have had to endure in the last year. Impatience, noncompliance and complacency will cost additional lives and more heartache.

I think by now, all of you know many people that have had the virus and recovered or, know someone close to you that perished. There is now hope to get this under control, but not before we lose more lives. Be a good neighbor is you can.

So, while waiting on your doses of the vaccine, what are your plans?

Take the best care of your health right now that you are able to. Handle those appointments you have been postponing so you can stay well. You cannot get the vaccine with a cold, COVID, or the flu. Make sure you are getting enough sleep particularly, the night before your scheduled vaccine.

Remember that you can contact your individual state’s Department of Health within the United States. For international information, you can contact the World Health Organization. We are fortunate to have the amount of available resources that we do under these unprecedented times. As always, my most frequently used resource is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) during this pandemic.

Mask up! Be proactive! Keep up the social distancing. We will be able to party again! 

People are struggling. We need to help those that cannot help themselves. Many times, just the smallest gesture can change someone’s life. Be kind.

To view our previous COVID-19/vaccine articles, you can view by clicking any of the links below: