From the deck of Shala, PhD: I got my first vaccine shot a couple of weeks ago (second one in a week!), and I couldn’t be happier. I feel one step closer in lifting alot of this anxiety about being around people and attending small gatherings. I’m high risk for severe COVID-19 (moderate asthmatic here).

We have hit some impressive milestones in the country in terms of vaccination, and I sincerely people continue to see past the misinformation, false disease narratives (which apparently is a whole field of study), and conspiracy theories (getting a vaccine would implant a microchip in you! a vaccine causes mutated DNA!) and get vaccinated. It’s no different from the vaccines you were required to get to start primary school, that flu shot (you should be getting annually), vaccines (eg, yellow fever) required or strongly suggested when traveling to certain countries, and other vaccines received during other viral outbreaks (eg, meningitis on college campuses).

To my fellow pro-vaxxers, I wanted to clear up a question I’ve been getting – is one vaccine better than the other? Alot of folks have been hearing about the JnJ vaccine with seemingly lower % effectiveness. Below I breakdown some of the data for the 3 available vaccines:

What Covid-19 Vaccines Are Emergency Use Authorized?

VaccinesaEffectivenessb
Pfizer-BioNTech (2 shots)95%
Moderna (2 shots)94%
Johnson & Johnson (1 shot)66%c
85%d
Source: Nature.com News (March 1, 2021).

aAs of March 10, 2021.
bAbility of vaccine to prevent laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in the “real world” population outside of clinical trials based on clinical trials of 40,000+ participants.
cModerate to severe cases.
dSevere cases.

Don’t let the lower percentage of effectiveness turn you off from getting the JnJ vaccine. Cross-trial comparisons (as it is called when you’re comparing outcomes of one trial to another) is never an aim; unless all three vaccines are tested head-to-head in the same trial under the same conditions and disease definitions with the same pool of participants, you can not definitively say that one is better than another based on the above.

So chile, get whichever vaccine you can get. Ultimately what you are really trying to prevent is falling prey to severe illness and death from COVID-19. All three of the available vaccines are seemingly similar in this based on trial data. Furthermore, for elderly populations or those who would have trouble traveling to a site twice for get their doses or those who need/prefer the convenience, having a 1 dose option out there has benefits (#oneanddone).

What has the FDA said on this?

“It is important that people do not think that one vaccine is better than others. All of them seem to be equally effective in preventing severe disease with intensive-care needs, and death”

Cody Meissner, MD

CFDA Immunization Advisory Panel member
Pediatric infectious disease specialist
Tufts University School of MedicineAbc Company

What is an emergency use authorization?

An emergency use authorization is “a mechanism to facilitate the availability and use of medical countermeasures during public health emergencies”.

These public health emergencies, like the COVID-19 pandemic we are all living through, justify the use of agents under clinical investigation because of the dire circumstances. However, there are still stringent requirements for these medical products to be given to the general population. Read more here.

–> FDA emergency use authorizations are relatively new but have been critical in the response to public health emergencies. The first emergency use authorization was signed in 2009 for H1N1 pandemic (Tamiflu for infants). Since, the FDA has issued emergency use authorizations for crises like anthrax and ebola.

Was that helpful?

Got some follow-up questions? I can help break it down for you and give you info so you can make your own decisions. DM or drop them in the comments.