COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines: Pfizer and Moderna

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the United States continue to rise. The COVID-19 vaccine can protect you and your family. By getting vaccinated, you not only protect yourself, but also those around you, especially those at increased risk.

What should you know
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that spreads easily from person-to-person. The vaccine can provide protection against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine creates an antibody response that helps the body fight the virus. In research studies, those who received the vaccine were less likely to get COVID-19 than those who were not vaccinated. Research also found that people who were exposed to COVID-19 after being vaccinated had milder cases of COVID-19. While the vaccine is one way to protect yourself, you should still continue to wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet apart, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often.

mRNA vaccines: How do they work?
Vaccines give the body a head start when it comes to fighting different diseases. They introduce the disease to the body’s immune system to trigger a response. This response helps the body build its defense to fight the disease. Many vaccines use a weak or inactive germ to trigger an immune response; however, mRNA vaccines work differently. mRNA vaccines teach cells how to make proteins, or pieces of proteins, that can trigger an immune response. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies. Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. Interest has grown in these vaccines because they can be developed in a laboratory using readily available materials. This allows researchers to make vaccines faster than they are made now.

Pfizer   
Efficacy Dosing Side effects
95% effective after two doses

Efficacy was seen regardless of gender, age, race, or ethnicity
2 doses given 3 weeks or 21 days apart

It is best to get the 2nd dose 17-21 days after the 1st dose.

Both doses are needed for full effectiveness

NOTE: Safety and efficacy of this vaccine, when given with other vaccines, has not been tested. DO NOT get any other vaccines 14 days before or after getting this vaccine
Most people experience side effects after the 2nd dose. Common side effects seen in the trials included:
Fatigue
Headache
Fever
Chills
Muscle aches
Pain or redness at the injection site

Most side effects only last a few days and may be a sign that the vaccine is triggering an immune response. If you have a bad reaction to the vaccine, call your doctor and file a report with the Adverse Events Line (see details below).
Moderna   
Efficacy Dosing Side effects
94% effective after two doses

Efficacy was seen regardless of gender, age, race, or ethnicity
2 doses given 4 weeks or 28 days apart

It is best to get the 2nd dose 25-35 days after the 1st dose.

Both doses are needed for full effectiveness.

NOTE: Safety and efficacy of this vaccine, when given with other vaccines, has not been tested. DO NOT get any other vaccines 14 days before or after getting this vaccine.
Most people experience side effects after the 2nd dose. Common side effects seen in the trials included:
Fatigue
Headache
Fever
Chills
Muscle aches
Pain or redness at the injection site

Most side effects only last a few days and may be a sign that the vaccine is triggering an immune response. If you have a bad reaction to the vaccine, call your doctor and file a report with the Adverse Events Line (see details below).

 

Keep in mind
Masks are required in the medical center. Please bring your insurance card and picture ID. If you do not have insurance, bring a picture ID.

Next steps
You will be given a COVID-19 vaccination card after you receive the vaccine. This is to help track which vaccine was given and the date received. Schedule an appointment for your second dose before leaving the medical center. Once you receive the 2nd dose, make sure the nurse or doctor who gives you the vaccine adds the information to your vaccine card. Keep the card for your records.

CDC V-Safe health checker
Visit vsafe.cdc.gov and register for the CDC’s V-safe vaccine follow-up program. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that allows you to tell CDC about any side effects you have after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The V-safe tool will also send reminders about your second dose.

Adverse Events Reporting Line
If you or a family member has a bad reaction after getting the vaccine, report it to the Adverse Events Reporting Line. Visit vaers.hhs.gov/esub/index.jsp to report any issues. Have the following information available when completing the form:

  • Patient Information (age, date of birth, sex)
  • Vaccine Information (brand name, dosage, date and time given, medical center)
  • Date and time reaction started
  • Symptoms
  • Any medical or lab tests done (if applicable)
  • Doctor’s contact information (if applicable)

COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines Explained (English | Spanish)

Questions or concerns
If you have any issues or concerns after you get the vaccine, contact your primary care doctor.