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What COVID-19 vaccine should I get?

The best vaccine against COVID-19 is the one in your arm.

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This is my arm: Which vaccine do I place in it?

When you think about getting medical care, you always should weigh the pros and cons. What if you have several choices? Then you need to compare the pros and cons of each one. It’s the same when you think about vaccines.

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Should I get a COVID-19 vaccination at all?

The answer to this is clearly YES. This clear “yes” is based on looking at the risks of the vaccine versus the risk of getting sick. The risk of getting sick and even dying from COVID-19 is high. Between 1 in 150 and 1 in 36 die from COVID-19. It is worse in older persons.1

As many as 1 out of 5 people with COVID-19 will have long-lasting problems with their hearts and lungs. They may also have problems with thinking.2

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OK the vaccine is a good idea. Now, which vaccine should I get? I want the one that works best.

The simple answer is all three vaccines offered in the United States give excellent protection against COVID-19. We don’t know that any one of them is better for any particular group of people.

Let’s look at the vaccines offered in the United States right now (the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines). 

How well a vaccine does depends on the virus and environment in which the vaccine was tested. Each vaccine trial had different types of virus and different environments. This makes it hard to compare them.

Think about it in terms of football:

  • Team A drives 95 yards toward the goal line on a clear day against a very weak team.
  • Team B drives only 65 yards on a rainy night against the best defense ever seen.
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Which offense is better? You can argue all day, but you simply can’t compare. The situations are different.

It’s the same with the vaccines. You can’t compare them. Early in the pandemic the playing field was different. There were fewer types of the virus. They didn’t spread as easily as the types that are around now. This made it easier to “drive 95 yards.”

But you can ask, “Which one is better at keeping COVID-19 from making people really sick? Which one is better at keeping COVID-19 from causing death?” The answer is that they all do just as well. 

Summary: Every day you don’t get one of the vaccines, is another day you may get COVID-19. But two weeks after you get the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, your chance of getting COVID-19 is very low.

The best vaccine against COVID-19 is the one in your arm.

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References

  1. Petersen E, Koopmans M, Go U, et al. Comparing SARS-CoV-2 with SARS-CoV and influenza pandemics. Lancet Infect Diseases. 2020 Sep;20(9):e238-e244.
  2. Hitt, J. COVID Clinical Care: Persistent COVID-19. Optum Health.

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.

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