By Aditi Shukla
After nearly a year since COVID-19 was detected, the world began the process of manufacturing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines. The current two vaccines for COVID-19 are the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, for people 16 years or older, and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, for people 18 years or older. Both vaccines have been emergency authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. An mRNA vaccine is a vaccine that uses a copy messenger RNA to produce an immune response. The mRNA strands code the body to make proteins for a “disease-specific” antigen. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is given in two doses, which are administered 21 days apart. Both doses are given as a shot in the muscle of the upper arm. Side effects could be flu-like symptoms for a couple days after the dose, but the Center for Disease Control website (CDC) says that they should go away after a few days. Side effects are more likely to come after the second dose, and include fever, tiredness, chills and headaches. According to clinical trials, this vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is also an mRNA vaccine. It is administered in two doses, which are given 28 days apart. It causes similar side effects to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and is also given in a similar area of the body. According to the CDC, most side effects are mild to moderate, but a small number of patients have experienced severe side effects that affected their ability to perform daily activities. The Moderna vaccine is tested to be 94.1 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 in those who have never experienced the illness. The vaccine also seems to be effective to everyone, across different races, ages and sexes.
On December 11, 2020, the first vaccines were distributed. President Joe Biden has a plan to distribute 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days in office. How exactly and who the vaccines are being given to are being decided by the federal, state and local governments. The CDC is providing recommendations on who should receive the vaccines based on age, health and risk.