Given a Choice, Which COVID-19 Vaccine Should You Choose?
For now, experts are clear the best vaccine is the one that goes into your arms. But if the vaccine supply grows, at some point Americans might find someone who asks, “What vaccine do you want?”
The answer for most people will still be, “Whatever is available”. However, there are differences that could play a role, although doctors agree that all three approved vaccines work very well at protecting against serious illness, hospitalization, and death.
One shot now is better than waiting for another shot, said Dr. Kathryn Edwards, scientific director of the vaccine research program at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine. It is likely to benefit both individuals and society by reducing the general spread of the disease.
Beyond that, there are small trade-offs when it comes to the current vaccines. In general, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses and are somewhat more effective. Johnson & Johnson requires one dose and is somewhat less likely to cause side effects.
Pedro Betancourt works at the airport in Miami and “can’t take chances,” he said. His choice would be “Johnson & Johnson due to a convenient one shot.” But he said he wasn’t picky because he and his wife had gotten COVID-19, which he described as “mild but scary.”
Right now, “I hope everyone takes the vaccinations seriously so that we can begin moving forward to normalcy,” he said.
Check efficacy rates
Overall, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna had slightly higher efficacy rates in clinical trials than J&J.
That’s enough for Tom Cavanagh of Lexington Park, Maryland. Given the choice, he’d choose either of them but would be open to all.
“Having been in the U.S. military, I have gotten many vaccines without having a bit of knowledge, so I will take the vaccine that I can get and hope for the best,” he said.
One way to approach this could be deciding if you’re someone at high risk of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19 or if someone in your family is, said Hilda Bastian.
People in that group might choose the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
For someone who doesn’t have anyone at home at high risk, and isn’t at high risk themselves, that slightly better effectiveness wouldn’t matter as much. The ease of the one-shot J&J vaccine could be more important.
“They might think, ‘As long as I’m doing my bit for the community, if it’s enough for that, then that would be enough for me,’” Bastian said.