Which vaccine should I get? Should I wait to get a particular vaccine? Is one more effective than another?
There are three vaccines in the United States available for administering: the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Moderna vaccine, and the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.
The CDC authorizes all three as safe, with the J&J/Janssen vaccine currently off of pause. Both the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines rate roughly 90% or higher in effectiveness approximately two weeks after the second dose. The J&J vaccine is a single-dose vaccine that is about 66% effective after two weeks. While at face value, this may seem like the J&J vaccine seems less effective, but according to recent studies, the efficacy rate raises to 77% after the second week and 85% by the 4th week after being vaccinated.
Things to consider:
- If you’re receiving either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, make sure both doses you receive are identical, either 2 Pfizer shots or 2 Moderna shots.
- Women under 50 years of age may want to consider proceeding with caution in receiving the J&J vaccine, as specific side effects present themselves more often in this demographic.
- All in all, it is not recommended to delay getting vaccinated. While it’s perfectly normal to weigh the pros and cons of the vaccines, people should seek out vaccination as quickly as possible to help curb the further spread of the disease.1
What’s going on with the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine? Is this one safe to get?
Currently, the J&J/Janssen vaccine is no longer on pause. The pause allowed the science community time to have the vaccine re-analyzed, re-evaluated, and determine if changes are needed to increase its safety. After further review, this vaccine was deemed safe, and the FDA lifted the pause. However, there have been some cases, particularly among women, of signs of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). 2
I received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine. Am I in danger of TTS?
If it’s been more than three weeks since you received the J&J/Janssen vaccine, there is very little chance that you are at risk for a blood clot. If it has been less than three weeks, your chance of blood clots is still low. Still, be sure to keep an eye out for symptoms outside of typical vaccine side effects. These include:
- Severe headache or backache
- Blurred vision
- Pain in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- New or easy bruising
- Tiny round spots past the injection site
- Leg swelling
- Severe stomach pain
These symptoms are often not immediate and can arise 4-20 days after vaccination. This is not a complete list of symptoms, but ask your doctor if you have concerns. 3
Do you get COVID when you get vaccinated?
None of the authorized and recommended COVID vaccines or any currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID. As a result, the COVID vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID. Instead, what the vaccine is doing is teaching your body how to deal with the virus should you ever encounter it. 4
Some people recently have reported catching COVID after their first or second vaccine. Why get vaccinated if I’m going to get sick anyway?You may have seen on the news recently about cases where people catch COVID even after being fully vaccinated. The CDC considers these to be “breakthrough cases,” and although they receive a lot of press, they are pretty rare, in fact far more rare than catching the flu after getting a flu shot. About a week ago, the CDC reported that roughly 5,800 out of 75 million fully vaccinated people still got COVID. That’s 0.0075 percent, compared to the annual flu shot, which is usually 40-60% effective overall. The most important thing to understand is that no vaccine is 100% effective but that vaccines are essential in both preventing the spread of disease and keeping you from experiencing more severe symptoms if you do catch it. 5
How safe is the COVID vaccine? Should I be concerned about the adverse reactions people are reporting?
If you have a history of allergies, you should notify the person administering the shot so they can keep a close eye on you after injection. Severe symptoms are rare and involve hives, swelling, wheezing, or issues breathing.
Medical professionals and assistants are on staff at vaccine sites to help quickly treat adverse reactions. However, if you have a delayed negative response after leaving the site, you should seek medical treatment right away.
Other allergic reactions, such as a rash around the injection site, are considered typical, and you should still receive your second shot when it is time. However, your administrator may suggest that you get it in the other arm. You may be kept for a few minutes more under observation to make sure you’re okay. 6
If I’m pregnant or breastfeeding, should I get vaccinated?
For now, the CDC has determined that it is unlikely to pose a risk to get vaccinated when pregnant, and trials are underway to get a more definitive answer. Recent findings show that women who have COVID during childbirth are at higher risk for complications during birth.
For those breastfeeding, some studies show that you may be able to pass on COVID antibodies to your baby through breast milk for up to 80 days post-vaccination, which may protect your baby from the virus. All of this is very much still in a phase of being further researched, however. As a result, weighing these issues should be discussed with your obstetrician/gynecologist as soon as possible. 7
Real-Life Vaccine Story: Lizz
GeniusRx Employee & Vaccine Volunteer
Fully Vaccinated with Pfizer
“I volunteered at a vaccine clinic in January with my three roommates. All of us got vaccinated that day after our shift. Our jobs were to enter the patient’s information into the computer. Each day a different vaccine was administered based on what supply was available to the clinic, so it varied from one day to the next. Whatever day you scheduled, you got the available vaccine.
I had patients crying, thanking me for helping them to get their vaccine. As soon as I heard about this opportunity, I wanted to be a part of it; I just wanted to do something to help end this pandemic. I didn’t have any concerns about the vaccine because I knew mRNA technology was used in the medical field for years already, so it wasn’t exactly new.
After the first immunization, I had some arm soreness, but I was otherwise fine. It was pretty easy to schedule the second one. I made the appointment right away in the online portal after receiving my first. With the next dose, I also had some arm soreness and a bit of extra energy! I also have friends and family that have had both J&J and Moderna vaccines without any severe issues.”
COVID Vaccine Resources: Where can I learn more about the COVID-19 Vaccines?
Remember always to use credible sources when researching the vaccine. Information can change quickly, and talking with your doctor about your unique circumstances is always recommended. To get started, we suggest checking out the following resources for the most up to date and relevant information:
Times are challenging, but we’re here with you fighting the same fight.
GeniusRx will always offer unbiased and unpolitical information based solely on the scientific and medical information at our disposal. Your health and wellness are everything, and we support that sole belief.