The FDA, as you know, has cleared two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in the United States – one from Pfizer and the other from Moderna.

cThe information below comes from the FDA reports on the vaccines that came out of their approval hearings as well as publicly available articles and reports on the vaccines. As always, do your own research and fact-check any information that you are concerned with or need additional information about.

PFIZER VACCINE

Effectiveness in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 (ages 16 and older):

95% (7 days after dose 2) with efficacy of 93.7% for people aged 55 and older.

How many shots do you need to take?

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2. The proposed use is two doses, administered 21 days apart.

Side Effects

Pain at injection site: 84.1%

Fatigue: 62.9%

Headache: 55.1%

Sore muscles: 38.3%

Chills: 31.9%

Joint pain: 23.6%

Fever: 14.2%

Severity of the side effects have been reported to increase after the second dose according to both anecdotal evidence and also the FDA report which states that “severe adverse reactions occurred in 0.0% to 4.6% of participants, were more frequent after Dose 2 than Dose 1” and were generally less frequent in participants 55 years of age and older than younger participants.

Allergy Information:

Before the vaccine was approved by the FDA, UK regulators warned anyone with “significant” food and medicine allergies not to take the vaccine. Although an allergy was found to be rare in the trial of 40,000 people, they found that during phase three of the trial, 137 out of 19,000 people had an allergic reaction. However, Pfizer argued that 111 of those who took placebos also had allergic reactions.

The FDA is currently investigating five reported allergic reactions.

Ingredients in Pfizer vaccine: Messenger RNA; lipids; salts and sugar. For more detailed list, click the link here.

The Pfizer vaccine is preservative-free. The Pfizer vaccine doesn’t contain any common allergens like nuts, eggs or heavy metals.

Will you still be able get the virus?

Yes. There is no proof that the Pfizer vaccine completely protects anyone from getting infected with COVID-19.

Can you still spread COVID-19 after taking the Pfizer vaccine?

Yes. According to Surgeon General Jerome Adams, you will still need to wear a mask and social distance because you can still pass along the virus.

Will taking the vaccine make you test positive for COVID-19?

With both the Pfizer and Modern vaccines, you are being injected with messenger RNA and NOT the actual virus. It is unlikely that you will test positive for COVID-19 because most of the tests are not targeting the spike protein for analysis. However, there is no definitive answer for this question.

Number of people in the study?

First trial: 60 people ages 16 to 55. Second trial: About 44,000 people aged 12 and older.

What wasn’t studied in the Pfizer trial?

There is no definitive data concerning the effects on the vaccine given to people who have already been infected with COVID-19. 

Furthermore, the trials did not include anyone who was younger than 12. 

There were no studies done to see if the vaccine is safe for pregnant women or women who were breastfeeding and there is no information on fertility impacts. A UK Safety report recommends not getting pregnant for at least two months after the second dose.

The FDA report says that there is “insufficient data to make conclusions about the safety of the vaccine in subpopulations such as children less than 16 years old, pregnant and lactating individuals, and immunocompromised individuals.”

The FDA report states that “available data are insufficient to make conclusions about benefit in individuals with prior SARS-VoV-2 infection” but that data that IS available, while limited, suggests that people who have already had COVID-19 could still be at risk of getting infected again and would therefore benefit from the vaccination (only 3% of participants in the study had already had the infection).

Duration of protection: 

According the FDA report, “As the interim and final analyses have limited length of follow-up, it is not possible to assess sustained efficacy over a period longer than TWO MONTHS.”

How it works (technical info):

This vaccine was developed with technology never approved for humans in the past. It’s a messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA). As opposed to receiving a weaker or inactive virus in our bodies to trigger an immune response, the mRNA vaccine is a piece of genetic code with instructions for our body. It tells our cells to make a protein – a protein that is the spike on top of the coronavirus and that is what triggers our immune response. 

A benefit of using mRNA technology is the speed by which the vaccine can be made because the scientists know the sequence of the virus. It was mapped in February of 2020. 

Does the vaccine actually give you COVID-19:

No. No virus is injected into you. You received a messenger RNA.

Who’s making the money off this:

Pfizer (American company headquartered in NYC) is in a partnership with BioTEch Manufacturing GmbH (German company). You can find a list of their shareholders at the link here.

You might be interested to know that The Vanguard Group holds shares in both Pfizer (7.6%) and Moderna (6.87%). 

Will We Get to Choose Which Vaccine We Get:

The vaccines will most likely be administered based on availability and the continuity of the second dose. If you are concerned and want a specific vaccine, call ahead at the locations that will be doing the vaccinations and ask which ones they are using. Whatever vaccine you go with for your first dose, you need to stick with for the second dose.

MODERNA VACCINE

Effectiveness in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 (18 yrs. and older):

94.1% (14 days after second dose) however the effectiveness is lower in older people. There is 86.4% efficacy with people 65 years and older. 

How many shots do you need to take?

2. The proposed use is two doses, administered 28 days apart.

Side Effects (over age 18):

Pain at injection site: 91.6%

Fatigue: 68.5%

Headache: 63%

Sore muscles: 59.6%

Chills: 43.4%

Joint pain: 44.8%

Severe adverse reactions occurred in 0.2% to 9.7% of participants and was more frequent after dose 2 than dose 1. They were less frequent in participants over age 65 as opposed to younger participants.

Allergy Information:

At the time this article was written, there were no reported allergic reactions to the Moderna vaccine because the vaccines have not been administered yet.

Ingredients in Moderna vaccine: Messenger RNA packed into lipid nanoparticles; tris buffer; sucrose; and sodium acetate. For more information, click on the link here.

The Moderna vaccine is preservative-free and there is no egg or egg-related component of the RNA vaccines.

Will you still be able get the virus?

Yes. There is no proof that it completely protects anyone from getting infected with COVID-19. However, the goal seems to have been to prevent symptoms from the virus, especially severe ones.

Can you still spread COVID-19 after taking the Moderna vaccine?

Yes. It is not proven that the Moderna vaccine stops the spread of the virus.

Number of people in the study?

30,400

What wasn’t studied in the Moderna trial?

The proposed use of the Moderna vaccine is for individuals who are 18 years of age and older. Younger children and adolescents were not in the study.

In the FDA report it says “Use in pregnant and breastfeeding women, immunogenicity in participants with immunosuppression, concomitant administration with non-COVID vaccines, long-term safety and long-term effectiveness are areas the Sponsor identified as missing information.”

Moderna did not include anyone in their study who already had COVID-19.

Duration of protection: 

Follow-up for participants in the study was only nine weeks and long-term effectiveness is not reported.

How it works (technical info):

The Moderna vaccine is a messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA) like the Pfizer vaccine.  

Does the vaccine actually give you COVID-19:

No. No virus is injected into you. You received a messenger RNA.

Who’s making the money off this:

Moderna is an American company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. led by CEO Stephane Bancel, a french businessman. They developed the vaccine in collaboration with scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

Shareholder information can be found at the link here.

UPDATE: It was recently brought to my attention by a local county health department that there is a timeframe of 7-8 weeks where the only vaccine you should receive is the COVID-19 vaccine. You can’t receive another vaccine 14 days before the first dose, in between the two doses and 14 days after the second dose.