Covid-19 Vaccine Comparison Guide | Which Vaccines Are Best

Pfizer BioNTech vaccinePfizer BioNTech vaccineBy: Arne_mueseler

There are multiple vaccines currently being developed, with some already having received approval for distribution while others approval are expected in the coming days and weeks. While there will be a number of vaccines available in the near future, it is unlikely Americans will be able to choose which vaccine they will be able to take due to logistical constraints in the vaccination of hundreds of millions of people. 

While a number of companies throughout the world are in the process of developing and distributing vaccines to their populations, the three main vaccines that are or will soon be available in the United States are:

Pfizer-BioNtech Vaccine:
American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer partnered with German biotechnology company BioNtech to develop their vaccine. The vaccine was the first to gain FDA approval and is now being distributed throughout the United States. 

The vaccine requires recipients to receive two doses, separated by 21 days. The vaccine is delivered by an injection in the recipients upper arm. It is proven to be 95% effective in protection against the virus in recipients aged 16 and older.

This vaccine uses mRNa, which “teaches our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies.” It needs to be stored at an extremely low temperature of between -112°F and -76°F and may only be out of that temperature range for no more than 120 hours (5 days) in order to be viable. Since it must be stored at such low temperatures, it requires special refrigeration equipment that many rural less affluent areas of the country may not have access to. Once thawed, the vaccine cannot be refrozen. 

Typical side effects of this vaccine include “pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever.” and may last up to several days. Researchers have noted that more people experience one or more side effects after receiving their second dose, but are unsure why that is the case. However, individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions have experienced more severe side effects that required additional medical attention.

Moderna Vaccine:

American biotechnology company Moderna is the second vaccine to gain FDA approval and is now being distributed throughout the United States. 

The vaccine requires recipients to receive two doses, separated by 28 days. The vaccine is delivered by an injection in the recipients upper arm. It is proven to be 94% effective in protection against the virus in recipients aged 16 and older.

This vaccine also uses mRNa, but can be stored at less extreme temperatures of between -13°F and 5°F, which means it can be stored in a standard freezer. It will last outside of the freezer in refrigeration for up to 30 days. It can not be refrozen after being taken out of the freezer, which means it must be used within 30 days of being unfrozen. 

Typical side effects of this vaccine include “pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection, nausea and vomiting, and fever.” and may last up to several days. Researchers have noted that more people experience one or more side effects after receiving their second dose, but are unsure why that is the case. However, individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions have experienced more severe side effects that required additional medical attention.

AstraZeneca-Oxford University Vaccine:

British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca partnered with Oxford University to develop their vaccine. As of this writing it is in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States and is still awaiting FDA approval before being able to be distributed throughout the country.

The vaccine requires recipients to receive two doses, separated by 25-30 days. The vaccine is delivered by an injection in the recipients upper arm and is proven to be between 70% and 90% effective depending on the dosage amount.

This vaccine is developed using existing vaccine technology and, once approved, will be able to be mass produced at a much higher scale than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are currently able to. This is because the vaccine can be stored at less extreme temperatures, for a longer period of time, that don’t require special equipment. Because of that, the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine will be able to more readily reach rural areas that don’t have the freezing capacity that many metropolitan areas have.

Typical side effects of this vaccine include “flu-like symptoms, including fever, fatigue, headaches, and muscle pain.” Researchers have noted that more people experience one or more side effects after receiving their second dose, but are unsure why that is the case. However, individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions have experienced more severe side effects that required additional medical attention.

Healthcare providers are recommending that vaccine recipients, regardless of which one they take, remain on site for 15-30 minutes after receiving their first and second dose in case the recipient has an allergic reaction to the vaccine they receive.

Covid-19 Vaccine Guides

Benefit Guide About
1. Vaccine TimelineWho get the vaccines first and when
2. Vaccine ComparisonRead the GuideThe current article you are reading
3. Where to Get VaccinesLocations carrying the vaccine
4. Vaccine RegistrationHow to signup & get vaccinated
5. Vaccine FAQ & HelpCommon questions on the vaccines answered
Covid-19 Relief BenefitsLists of most common government benefits, requirements to qualify and how to apply