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COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Guide

Now that there are authorized and recommended emergency use COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States, it is important that you have accurate, up-to-date vaccine information. Our helpful guide will help you better understand the COVID vaccine facts!

What is in the COVID Vaccine?

Among many other frequently asked questions concerning the COVID-19 vaccine, many are inquiring about what exactly is in it. COVID vaccine ingredients can vary depending on which manufacturer you receive your vaccine from. Here is a breakdown of ingredients, based on authorized COVID vaccine manufacturers:

Pfizer, Inc. and BioNTech

Type of Vaccine: mRNA
Number of Shots: 2 shots, 21 days apart
The ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are mRNA, lipids ((4- hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

ModernaTX, Inc.

Type of Vaccine: mRNA
Number of Shots: 2 shots, 28 days apart
The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine contains mRNA, lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate trihydrate, and sucrose.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals Companies of Johnson & Johnson

Type of Vaccine: Viral Vector
Number of Shots: 1 shot
The Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine includes recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, citric acid monohydrate, trisodium citrate dihydrate, ethanol, 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD), polysorbate-80, and sodium chloride.

COVID Vaccine Facts

How They Work

There are currently two types of COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States: messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines and a viral vector vaccine. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine that gives instructions for our cells to make a protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. The protein triggers an immune response, which produces antibodies to protect us from getting infected if the virus enters our bodies. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19, and they do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way.

Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different virus (the vector) that uses the body’s own cells to produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. The spike protein triggers the immune system to begin producing antibodies and fight off what it thinks is an infection. At the end of the vaccination process, our bodies have learned how to protect themselves against future infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Safety and Effectiveness

Over 263 million doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered in the United States. These vaccines have undergone careful testing and continuous monitoring for problems and side effects to ensure maximum safety.

Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19, or getting seriously ill if you do get COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine showed an efficacy of 95% at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 after two doses, while the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective. Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine was shown to be 66% protective against moderate to severe COVID infections from 28 days after injection. Scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus, how long the vaccines protect people, and how effective they are in fighting new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Cost and Availability

Vaccines are now more widely accessible in the United States. Everyone 16 years of age and older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The United States federal government is providing the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge to all people living in the U.S., regardless of their immigration or health insurance status. COVID-19 vaccination providers cannot charge you directly for the vaccine; however, they may seek reimbursement from the recipients’ healthcare plan or program.