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Everything You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

By Amber Hunsicker
Freeform Editor

After all the preventive actions everyone of us had to abide by—lockdown, quarantine, face masks, and social distancing—I think it would be fair to say that finding a way to return to ‘normal’ is #1 on the list of priorities for the United States. 

To try to return to ‘normal’ safely, there have been three vaccines approved to decrease the spread of the coronavirus and release us all from this pandemic. The three vaccines authorized and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are from Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. 

Pfizer BioNTech

According to the CDC, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine (BNT162b2) consists of two shots given in the muscle of the upper arm twenty-one days apart from each other. It does not contain eggs, preservatives, or latex and is recommended for those ages sixteen or older. 

You should not get this vaccine if you have had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to either your first dose of the vaccine or if you are already allergic to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (such as polyethylene glycol).

The CDC claims that based on evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who had not previously been infected.

Common side effects for the arm that received the vaccine include pain, redness and/or swelling. Common side effects throughout the rest of the body were common within seven days of getting vaccinated, typically after the second dose, according to data from clinical trials provided to the CDC. These side effects include: tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and/or nausea. All of these symptoms should go away in a few days. 

Moderna 

The Moderna vaccine (mRNA-1273) also consists of two shots given in the muscle of the upper arm. For this vaccine, both doses must be given twenty-eight days from each other. This vaccine also does not contain eggs, preservatives or latex and is recommended for those ages eighteen or older. 

Like the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, you should not get the Moderna vaccine if you have had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to either your first dose of the vaccine or if you are already allergic to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (such as polyethylene glycol). 

According to the CDC, based on evidence from clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine is 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses among those who had no evidence of being previously infected. So far, this vaccine also appears to have high effectiveness in clinical trials (efficacy) among people of diverse race and ethnicity, sex, age and among persons with underlying medical conditions. 

Common side effects are the same for both the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. 

Johnson & Johnson/Janssen 

The Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine (JNJ-78436735) consists of one shot given in the muscle of the upper arm. Like the other vaccines, it does not contain eggs, preservatives or latex. It is recommended for those ages eighteen or older. 

You should not get this vaccine if you have had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to any ingredient in the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (such as polysorbate), according to the CDC. 

The CDC claims the J&J/Janssen vaccine was 66.3% effective in clinical trials at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness two weeks after receiving the vaccine in people who had no evidence of prior infection, and also showed that people had the most protection two weeks after getting vaccinated. Early evidence suggests that the J&J/Janssen vaccine might provide protection against asymptomatic infection, which is when a person is infected by the virus that causes COVID-19 but does not get sick. 

Common side effects for the J&J/Janssen vaccine are the same as those found in the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. 

For more information, check out the CDC website for more information about all three vaccines. 

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