Our patients have been asking which vaccine is the best for COVID-19. With recent news headlines posting the COVID vaccine effectiveness, availability, and even confusion over results and safety, finding the right COVID vaccine for you is important.
The first two vaccines approved by the FDA, the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine, have an effectiveness of 90% or better – which is a rate higher that what was expected last year.
We most likely won’t rid the world of COVID-19 and its variants in the next few years, or ever. The earliest known flu pandemic was in 1580. Yet, over 335,000 deaths are attributed to the flu in the U.S. only from 2010-2019. In addition, measles is still around, as is polio and smallpox.
Yet efficacy for a vaccine in its most concrete definition is how many people develop an infection after being vaccinated. By that metric, Pfizer is great, and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine with efficacy in the ’70s is good. But that number alone doesn’t tell the entire story.
The primary goal of the vaccine is first to stop the deaths and reduce the impact of the disease, i.e., hospitalizations. Vaccine efficacy doesn’t wholly address those metrics. So far, the vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J have done well to curb infections, even with the side effects – if you are immunized and become infected with COVID-19, it is not a mortal illness.
For those vaccinated who did become infected, COVID’s course was significantly attenuated, with fewer hospitalizations. Vaccination with any of these three choices turns a lethal disease into a cold.
The CDC continues to release updates on COVID-19 vaccine availability and best practices.
How Do Immunizations Work?
When our immune system encounters a pathogen, it mounts a defense. The defense is not against the entire COVID-19 pathogen, but against a specific element or fragment of the virus. Any object with that particular shape is identified, attacked, and neutralized. So a naturally acquired immunity (after contracting COVID-19) may be successful in protecting against a range of forms.
All three of the current vaccines are focused specifically on the viral spike protein. They differ only in how that spike protein is delivered.
Naturally acquired immunity from having a COVID-19 infection may cover different structural elements of the virus, given it an ability to protect against some variants. Naturally acquired immunity will provoke a range of responses, from the robust where we are asymptomatic to the feeble, where we become deathly ill or even die. The fact that the vaccines are focused on a specific structural component, the spike protein, may make a difference in our immune response’s range compared to a naturally acquired immunity. But all of the vaccines produce a good response.
Which COVID-19 Vaccine Should I Choose?
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has advantages over the other two vaccines. First, it is one and done. No second appointment, and that means that our capacity to vaccinate is greater.
A vaccine site giving 1000 vaccinations a day can fully immunize 1000 individuals a day with the J&J product, but only 500 a day with Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccine. Second, it doesn’t require a logistical cold chain and supercold refrigeration, making it more deliverable to rural areas and into pharmacies and community centers.
But here is the bottom line when choosing a vaccine for you and your family. If you are high risk, the best vaccine is the one that is about to go into your arm.
If you are not high risk, talk to your local NYC doctors about ways to increase your immunity and overall health by changes in lifestyle, nutrition changes, and more.
Not sure if you have COVID-19, the flu, or just a bad cold? Get a COVID PCR test or rapid test at a local NYC urgent care center.
To speak with our team regarding COVID-19 vaccines and testing New York, call 877.471.9091.