How do these vaccines work?

Both work in the same way. The injection contains messenger RNA (mRNA) for a particular Covid-19 virus gene. The mRNA from the injection becomes absorbed by cells in the human body, and those cells read the mRNA and make the protein for which it codes. The protein is that Spike protein that is often seen in colorful (artist’s conception) depictions of the Covid-19 virus. The official name for the virus is SARS-CoV-2. After the cell makes the Spike protein, it becomes embedded in the surface of that same cell. These cells now have SARS-CoV-2 Spikes on their surface.

The immune system sees this foreign protein and makes antibodies against it. The antibodies will then remain in your system. If you become exposed to the Covid-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2, after vaccination, your immune system will attack the virus, usually preventing illness. For persons who are not vaccinated, it takes a couple of weeks for the immune system to make antibodies and thereby clear the virus from the body. But the immune system of vaccinated persons will begin immediately to attack the virus. That is the advantage of all vaccines. They train the immune system to recognize a virus immediately.

Do the vaccines contain the Covid-19 virus?

No. Other vaccines contains killed versions of the virus against which the person is being vaccinated. With mRNA vaccines, the vaccine only contains one gene from the virus. You cannot become infected with Covid-19 from this vaccine; it does not contain the virus.

Do the vaccines contain mercury or other heavy metals?

No. See the list of ingredients for each vaccine at the end of this article.

Do the vaccines contain the cells of aborted fetuses?

No. Neither of these vaccines contain cells from any human being at any stage of development.

Why do I need two injections of the vaccine?

When you are vaccinated, you will receive either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine. Each requires a second injection of the same type of vaccine at a later time. You need two vaccination shots so that your immune system will develop enough antibodies to fight off Covid-19. It is not uncommon for some vaccinations to require more than one injection.

How long do I have to wait for the 2nd injection?

Moderna: the second injection is received 28 days after the first.
Pfizer: the second injection is received 21 days after the first.

How long does it take to develop antibodies?

Moderna: 14 days after the 2nd injection
Pfizer: 7 days after the 2nd injection

How effective are these vaccines after the 2nd injection?

Moderna: 94% effective 14 days after the 2nd injection
Pfizer: 95% effective 7 days after the 2nd injection

There is not statistically significant difference in the effectiveness between the two vaccines. If both vaccines were to be tested again, the values might be different, and could be higher for Moderna in that case. So each vaccine is more than 90% effective; both are approximately 95% effective.

Pfizer states that there is 52% effectiveness after the first injection; Moderna does not give that information (that I could find).

What are the side effects and how severe are they?

Side effects are common in both vaccines. The side effects were greater after the second vaccination than the first. “The most commonly reported side effects, which typically lasted several days, were pain at the injection site, tiredness [fatigue], headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever.” Not all persons develop each and every side effect.

How do these side effects compare to other vaccines for other diseases?

The side effects to the mRNA vaccines are much greater than for other vaccinations for other diseases. They do not know why.

How many vaccination doses are available in the U.S.?

Moderna: 20 million doses available by the end of 2020 or early 2021; 500 million to one billion doses will be available by the end of 2021.

Pfizer: 50 million doses available by the end of 2020 or early 2021; 1.3 billion doses will be available by the end of 2021.

Which vaccine is better?

In my opinion, the Pfizer vaccine is better. It provides protection against Covid-19 2 weeks sooner than the Moderna vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine has the second injection after 21 days, a week earlier than Moderna, and the Pfizer vaccine provides protection 7 days after the second injection, compared to Moderna’s 14 days. Also, the Pfizer vaccine contains only 30 micrograms of the mRNA, whereas the Moderna vaccine contains 100 micrograms of the mRNA. The lower dosing of the Pfizer vaccine might possibly translate into lower side effects, maybe.

Who Gets the Vaccine When?

Each U.S. State determines who gets the vaccine when, but the following is the recommendation of The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which most States are likely to follow.

First: Healthcare personnel (~21 million persons)
and Long-term care residents (~3 million people)
Beginning December 2020
Where? Vaccines will be given out to healthcare personnel in their workplaces or in hospitals, and to long-term care residents in the facility where they live.

Second: Essential workers (non-healthcare) (~87 million people)
Beginning January 2021
Where? Given out in doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers (similar to flu shot).

Essential workers includes educators, law enforcement, public safety, other first responders, workers that enable the production and sale of food (for example, farmers), workers that support the energy sector (for example, coal miners or electricians), workers needed to operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater facilities, workers supporting transportation and logistics (ex: truck drivers, bus drivers), and others. For more details, see the advisory memorandum by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Third: Adults with high-risk medical conditions and those 65 and older (~53 million people)
Beginning early 2021
Where? Given out in doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers (similar to flu shot).
High-risk medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, COPD, heart disease and related conditions, chronic kidney disease, cancer, smoking, organ transplant, and sickle cell disease.

Fourth: General population
Beginning early 2021
Where? Given out in doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers (similar to flu shot).

Who Should NOT receive the vaccine?

The following persons should not receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, unless their own physician recommends it, despite the conditions/circumstances mentioned:

* those currently ill with Covid-19, and those who have not fully recovered
* those who received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as treatment for COVID-19
* those with LongCovid
* those exposed to Covid-19 who are under quarantine
* those who are immunocompromised or taking immunosuppressants
* those with autoimmune conditions
* those with a past allergic reaction to any vaccine, especially a severe reaction, OR who are allergic to PEG (polyethylene glycol)
* those with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)
* Anyone with a history of Bell’s Palsy
* women who are pregnant or lactating/breast-feeding

What EXACTLY is in each of these vaccines?

Pfizer vaccine contains:
“30 mcg of a nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2. Each dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine also includes the following ingredients: lipids (0.43 mg (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis( hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 0.05 mg 2[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 0.09 mg 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and 0.2 mg cholesterol), 0.01 mg potassium chloride, 0.01 mg monobasic potassium phosphate, 0.36 mg sodium chloride, 0.07 mg dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and 6 mg sucrose. The diluent (0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection, USP) contributes an additional 2.16 mg sodium chloride per dose. [Source: FDA]

Moderna vaccine contains:
“100 mcg of nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (mRNA) encoding the pre-fusion stabilized Spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Each dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine contains the following ingredients: a total lipid content of 1.93 mg (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSP C]), 0.31 mg tromethamine, 1.18 mg tromethamine hydrochloride, 0.043 mg acetic acid, 0.12 mg sodium acetate, and 43.5 mg sucrose.” [Source: FDA]

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
“an author, not a doctor”