Comparing Covid-19 Vaccine Hero

The Differences Between the COVID-19 Vaccines

By Marc R. Watkins, M.D., MSPH, FACOEM - Kroger Health Chief Medical Officer

Last Updated: May 20, 2021

There are currently three authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, and though each is a little different, they all have the same goal: to protect you. Let’s go over how the vaccines were produced and the differences between each.

Doctors and scientists were able to use previous coronavirus research, such as that done on MERS and SARS, to identify and synthesize the SARS-CoV-2 virus when it appeared in late 2019. Learnings from these outbreaks, coupled with improved genetic sequencing technology, allowed the teams to bring life-saving vaccines to the public in record time. Read on to learn more about the differences between the vaccines.

Pfizer-BioNTech

This vaccine, using genetic material known as messenger RNA (mRNA), teaches our bodies how to make something called a “spike protein,” a protein found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Once this spike protein is formed, your immune system creates antibodies to help fight off future infection. Researchers, doctors and scientists have been using mRNA vaccines for decades against other viral diseases such as rabies, flu, Zika and cytomegalovirus (CMV).

The Pfizer-BioNTech shot is a two-shot series and is administered 21 days apart. The most common side effects* include pain and soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headache and chills. These side effects may last 12-72 hours. Many people report no side effects at all. Pfizer-BioNTech is approved for ages 12 and older and is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19.

Moderna

This vaccine, like Pfizer, is a mRNA vaccine. Moderna is a two-shot series and is administered 28 days apart. The most common side effects* include pain at the injection site, fever, muscle aches and headache. Moderna is approved for ages 18 and older and is 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19.

Johnson & Johnson

On April 23, 2021 both the CDC and FDA recommended restarting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a brief two-week pause to alert health care professional of an extremely rare blood clot in a handful of people.* The vaccine now comes with a new warning for rare clotting events among women aged 18-49 years.

This vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the genetic instructions your body needs to learn how to make the spike protein. Just like the other two vaccines, once your body recognizes the spike protein, your immune system creates antibodies to fight future infection.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose vaccine. The most common side effects* include fever, muscle aches and fatigue. Johnson & Johnson is approved for ages 18 and older and is 66.3% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms, 85% effective at preventing severe illness and extremely effective at preventing virus-related death.

How long does it take to become fully protected?

After your second dose of an mRNA vaccine or single dose of the viral vector vaccine, your body requires about 14 days to develop antibodies and become fully protected. At this point, it’s unknown how long vaccine-induced immunity from COVID-19 lasts, but researchers continue to study and monitor post vaccination resistance. Vaccinations are an important tool to help stop the pandemic and protect both yourself and the people around you.

Review the latest information from the CDC, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/your-vaccination.html .

Explore more healthy living advice from our team of experts.

*CDC and FDA will continue to monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines.

Disclaimer: This information is informational purposes only. Please see a healthcare provider for any questions.

Comparing Covid-19 Vaccine Hero

The Differences Between the COVID-19 Vaccines

By Marc R. Watkins, M.D., MSPH, FACOEM - Kroger Health Chief Medical Officer

Last Updated: May 20, 2021

There are currently three authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, and though each is a little different, they all have the same goal: to protect you. Let’s go over how the vaccines were produced and the differences between each.

Doctors and scientists were able to use previous coronavirus research, such as that done on MERS and SARS, to identify and synthesize the SARS-CoV-2 virus when it appeared in late 2019. Learnings from these outbreaks, coupled with improved genetic sequencing technology, allowed the teams to bring life-saving vaccines to the public in record time. Read on to learn more about the differences between the vaccines.

Pfizer-BioNTech

This vaccine, using genetic material known as messenger RNA (mRNA), teaches our bodies how to make something called a “spike protein,” a protein found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Once this spike protein is formed, your immune system creates antibodies to help fight off future infection. Researchers, doctors and scientists have been using mRNA vaccines for decades against other viral diseases such as rabies, flu, Zika and cytomegalovirus (CMV).

The Pfizer-BioNTech shot is a two-shot series and is administered 21 days apart. The most common side effects* include pain and soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headache and chills. These side effects may last 12-72 hours. Many people report no side effects at all. Pfizer-BioNTech is approved for ages 12 and older and is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19.

Moderna

This vaccine, like Pfizer, is a mRNA vaccine. Moderna is a two-shot series and is administered 28 days apart. The most common side effects* include pain at the injection site, fever, muscle aches and headache. Moderna is approved for ages 18 and older and is 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19.

Johnson & Johnson

On April 23, 2021 both the CDC and FDA recommended restarting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a brief two-week pause to alert health care professional of an extremely rare blood clot in a handful of people.* The vaccine now comes with a new warning for rare clotting events among women aged 18-49 years.

This vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the genetic instructions your body needs to learn how to make the spike protein. Just like the other two vaccines, once your body recognizes the spike protein, your immune system creates antibodies to fight future infection.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose vaccine. The most common side effects* include fever, muscle aches and fatigue. Johnson & Johnson is approved for ages 18 and older and is 66.3% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms, 85% effective at preventing severe illness and extremely effective at preventing virus-related death.

How long does it take to become fully protected?

After your second dose of an mRNA vaccine or single dose of the viral vector vaccine, your body requires about 14 days to develop antibodies and become fully protected. At this point, it’s unknown how long vaccine-induced immunity from COVID-19 lasts, but researchers continue to study and monitor post vaccination resistance. Vaccinations are an important tool to help stop the pandemic and protect both yourself and the people around you.

Review the latest information from the CDC, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/your-vaccination.html .

Explore more healthy living advice from our team of experts.

*CDC and FDA will continue to monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines.

Disclaimer: This information is informational purposes only. Please see a healthcare provider for any questions.