Which Vaccine Is Best?

Most Americans aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19. There are a lot of questions as to when we all will be. Some are hopeful it will be by early summer. More conservative estimates believe every American who wants a shot will have one by the end of the summer. Thus far, we have three vaccines that the FDA has approved for emergency use in the U.S.: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer.

The Moderna vaccine can be frozen at warmer temperatures and is the most effective by a hair. The research was funded in part by Dolly Parton, who rewrote the song Jolene to be Vaccine when she got her shot. In a video about the injection, she sang, “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, I’m begging of you, please don’t hesitate. Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, because once you’re dead, then that’s a bit too late.”

Pfizer is almost as effective and has the advantage of being helped in production by rival companies. As other companies are lagging behind in their own vaccine research, they are instead helping with producing more of Pfizer’s vaccine. It’s the best way to get an effective shot into our arms! The problem with both of these shots is that they actually require two injections for full coverage. You cannot mix and match; if you get a Pfizer shot the first time, you need a Pfizer shot the second time. That hasn’t been a problem so far, but it does make some people anxious. Snowstorms have delayed people’s second shots, but shortages have not, as of yet.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not as effective. While both Moderna and Pfizer give you over 94 percent protection against becoming infected, Johnson & Johnson is 72 percent effective in preventing infection. However, if you do become ill, it does prevent you from becoming seriously ill or being hospitalized. That’s huge. It’s not that the shot is hit or miss. Even if you become sick, you won’t be anywhere near as ill. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 85 percent effective at making you asymptomatic or more mildly sick. It is still a fantastic shot.

COVID-19 has killed 15 times the number of people who die in a typical flu season. We understand when we hear about people’s hesitancy to accept the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — it just doesn’t sound as good. But, it will prevent hospitalization, death and lower your chance of spreading the virus. That is worth it.

One thing we do really like about Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is that it’s one injection. There is a possibility that more research could show two shots are better but right now, it’s just one dose. It’s convenient. We won’t have to make a second trip, and there can’t be any confusion about our second appointment. And, if something goes wrong with the supply chain, we don’t have to worry about our second dose. We’ve seen it happen here in San Diego. Our vaccination sites have had to shut down a couple of times because of supply-chain problems. If it’s a case of one-and-done, you don’t have to worry about “What happens next?”

A few places in the country allow you to pick which vaccine you receive. But mostly it’s a case of beggars can’t be choosers. We’ve heard of people turning down vaccines because it wasn’t the one they wanted. We can understand that with the miscommunications around how good Johnson & Johnson’s is. With the current scarcity of vaccines, and the people scrambling to get them, the best vaccine is the one you are offered. All three of them are lifesaving. All three are incredible shields against the terrible virus. If you are offered a vaccine, don’t hesitate because of the brand!

Banner image of Dolly Parton graffiti of Haywood Rd, West Asheville. Photo by: Wes McFee via Unsplash
March 05, 2021
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