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Which Is The Best COVID Vaccine for You?

March 01, 2021

You’ve heard the Johnson & Johnson news, so let’s test your COVID-19 vaccine knowledge.

Which is the best vaccine for you?

A. Pfizer-BioNTech.
B. Moderna.
C. Johnson & Johnson.
D. Any of the above.

Answer: D.

That’s right, the best vaccine is the one in front of you on vaccination day.

“Our clinical team has reviewed the submission (to the FDA) for the J&J vaccine,” says Eric Arlia, Hartford HealthCare’s Senior Director of Pharmacy. “Their vaccine is equally effective as other vaccines at preventing serious illness and death. No patients in their study, post-28 days, were hospitalized or had passed away. So we have tremendous faith in their vaccine. And as a one-dose vaccine, it offers certain advantages in ease of administration.”

Don’t dismiss Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine because it’s one dose instead of two or might have appeared slightly less effective in trials than either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. (Click here to find out the differences in the vaccine technologies.)

In clinical trials, the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were about 95 percent effective at lowering the risk of getting COVID-19. These trials were performed last year, before more contagious variants were identified around the world.

The Food and Drug Administration reported the Johnson & Johnson vaccine 72 percent effective at preventing all COVID-19 and 86 percent effective at preventing severe cases, which often require hospitalization. Notably, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine proved almost as effective in a trial in South Africa, where a new, more virulent strain has been identified. Though slightly less effective overall at preventing all COVID-related illness, at 64 percent, it was still 82 percent effective at preventing severe disease.

The FDA report also revealed the vaccine effectively protects against United Kingdom and Brazil variants. It’s possible neither the Pfizer-BioNTech nor the Moderna vaccine is as effective against the new variants.

Some vaccine perspective: The seasonal flu vaccine ranges from 40 percent to 60 percent effectiveness, depending on the year’s strain.

As teachers and residents age 55 and older become eligible for vaccination today in the state’s phased rollout amid a temporarily restricted vaccine supply — please be patient when attempting to make an appointment — the first doses of the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine could arrive later this week. When more and more people want a vaccine — Hartford HealthCare’s latest mega vaccine clinic opened today at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford — it is the best kind of news.

“We want to make sure folks have all the information they need,” says Dr. Ajay Kumar, Hartford HealthCare‘s Chief Clinical Officer. “The pros and cons, the side effects and everything else and let the people make the decisions. I don’t want to convince people to take their vaccine. I want people to say, ‘Look, this is the right thing to do, I have all the knowledge and information and I’m ready to get a vaccination.'”