It’s a little like whiplash keeping up with the news about COVID-19 and the vaccines designed to protect us from it, but being vaccinated against this widespread virus will help keep you and your loved ones safe from serious illness and possible death.
With several COVID-19 vaccines to choose from, you’re probably wondering which one is best for you. The truth is, it’s whichever one you get! The more of us who get vaccinated, the sooner we can safely get back to the events, people and city we love. With that in mind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for people age 18 and up after a brief pause for more testing.
Johnson & Johnson vs. Moderna vs. Pfizer
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-dose shot that doesn’t need extreme cold storage, making it different from Pfizer and Moderna, which both require colder storage and two doses, given three to four weeks apart, respectively.
The Pfizer and Moderna shots are mRNA vaccines. These were manufactured without having to grow host viruses, which sped up the production and made it possible for them to be tested months before the Johnson & Johnson shot was ready. Johnson & Johnson is based on a traditional vaccine model, carrying a harmless, modified cold virus that trains the body to recognize COVID-19 and fight it off. Like the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, it is extremely effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19.
So, why the Johnson & Johnson drama?
After reports of a rare side effect in women involving severe blood clotting and low platelet counts, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout was paused. Of the 6.8 million people who got the shot before it went on hold, just 15 of them—all women between 18 and 59 years old—reported this side effect. After careful consideration, the CDC and FDA lifted the vaccine pause on April 23. They found the blood clots to be rare and even more so in women over 50 or men of any age.
If you decide the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the one for you, watch for signs of a clotting problem and seek immediate medical help if you develop any of these symptoms in the three weeks after you get the vaccine:
- Severe headache
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Swelling in the legs
- Stomach pain
- Easy bruising
- Tiny red spots where you got your injection
There’s been a lot of talk about blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but people who get COVID-19 are also at risk to develop blood clots. A new study suggests the risk of a severe blood clot in the brain is up to 10 times higher in people with COVID-19 than in those who receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The study also finds that serious blood clots in the brain are around 100 times more common in people with COVID-19 than in healthy people.
Nothing compares to you
You can laugh at a meme comparing the strength of the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines or ask vaccinated family and friends which vaccine they got, but there’s no real way to compare the vaccines because they haven’t been tested against each other.
When you think about the things that are known—that all three vaccines have similar side effects and rates of effectiveness to protect us from the very real dangers that COVID-19 brings to our parish—vaccination just makes sense.
Vaccines > COVID-19
Clinical trials show all three COVID-19 vaccines to be way more effective than our annual flu shots. Because of the extreme health threat COVID-19 poses, especially for our most vulnerable loved ones and neighbors, we want to save as many lives and keep as many people out of the hospital as possible by vaccinating as many people as possible.