Every day, more and more Marylanders are getting vaccinated against COVID. Our state currently has eligibility restrictions in place but hopes to make the vaccine available to anyone over the age of 16 very soon. As you become eligible, I sincerely hope that you will get vaccinated. Doing so represents the best chance we have to beat this virus and begin to return to normal life. Yet, there is not just one vaccine available. There are currently 3 vaccines that have been approved and are currently being distributed. Additionally, two more vaccines are currently in stage 3 clinical trials and may be available soon. With so many vaccine options available, some of you undoubtedly are wondering which vaccine you should get. I am here to tell you that the answer is simple: get whichever vaccine you can!
I have had many patients ask me which vaccine is best and if they should preferentially try to get one over the others. The answer to these questions, for me, is easy. When it comes to the three COVID vaccines being administered, each has been proven to be highly effective. One vaccine is not superior to the other. Thus, if and when you are offered a vaccine, I would encourage you to take it regardless of whether it is Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson.
You may be wondering how I can make such a claim when the vaccines have different reported efficacies. Particularly, it may seem like Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine is worse because its effectiveness is about 75% while Moderna and Pfizer reported effectiveness rates at around 95%. However, comparing these numbers is like comparing apples and oranges. The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines were all trialed at different stages during the pandemic, with variables like overall testing rates and number of circulating COVID variants differing. Thus, it is incorrect to say that one vaccine works better than another. All of the vaccines work; in fact, each vastly exceeds the FDA’s required 50% efficacy.
You should not delay getting one of the COVID vaccines in hopes of getting another. Whenever you are offered a vaccine, regardless of which one it is, please accept it. I received Pfizer’s vaccine but honestly I would have gladly accepted any. Each vaccine will provide you with great protection against COVID. However, it is important to note that once you get a dose of one vaccine, you must get the same one for your second. Both Pfizer and Moderna require two shots for maximum protection. If your first dose is a Pfizer shot then your second dose should be as well. You should not mix and match your vaccinations. Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine is a single dose so this concern does not apply for their vaccine.
Hopefully soon, if you have not yet been, you will become eligible to get your COVID vaccine. When you are, please get vaccinated as soon as possible. Each of the vaccines currently being administered will provide you with protection against the virus. The COVID pandemic has caused many challenges but deciding which vaccine to get should not be one of them.