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Q: It seems that there are three different COVID vaccines. What is the difference between all of them? Between all three, which has more protection against COVID?

Currently, three drug companies have received emergency use authorization from the FDA for vaccines against COVID-19. These companies are Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

The most important thing to know is that all three vaccines are safe and highly effective. The FDA did not skip any steps or safety protocols during the approval process. They all went through extensive testing before they were approved and have now been injected into millions of people worldwide with no safety problems.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are given in two doses a few weeks apart. These vaccines are more than 90 percent effective against COVID-19, which makes them among the most effective vaccines ever developed.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available in a single dose and is around 70 percent effective, which is still excellent. For comparison, that’s more effective than the annual flu vaccine. More importantly, however, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been shown to reduce hospitalization and death from COVID significantly. That means if you do get the virus, you are far less likely to get severely ill.

In all three vaccines, some people experience symptoms after getting the shot. These can include soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, body aches, chills, and fever. These symptoms are caused by your immune system kicking into gear in response to the vaccine. While they might be uncomfortable, they are temporary and not dangerous.

Finally, one important difference between the vaccines is that so far only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for people age 16 and up. For the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson versions, you have to be 18 to get the shot.

The bottom line is that all three vaccines are safe and offer excellent protection against COVID-19. If you’re a teenager or prefer a single shot, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine might be a better option. Otherwise, we agree with the CDC that you should get the first vaccine that becomes available to you.

Chrissy Miller
Employee Health Manager, Maui Health