Vaccine

Vaccine

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Vaccines are the best tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Vaccines help your body fight off the virus. When you are vaccinated you are much less likely to get sick and less likely to transmit the virus to others. Anyone who is not vaccinated is still vulnerable to experiencing the worst of COVID-19 and can continue spreading the virus. The more people who get vaccinated, the fewer chances for transmission and mutations, and the faster we can end the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Vermont's Commissioner of Health, Mark Levine, MD, addresses common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

About the Vaccines

The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available in Vermont. Data from clinical trials and in the real world has shown that all three COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.

These vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and continue to be safe. EUA is a way for vaccines and other medicines to be approved in a public health emergency. After proving the vaccines are safe and effective, they can be used while long-term studies continue. Learn more about Emergency Use Authorization and watch a video on what EUA is.

On August 23, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive full approval from the FDA for people age 16 and older. It continues to be available under EUA for people 12 to 15 years old and for a third dose in certain people with weakened immune systems. The Pfizer vaccine was the first vaccine to receive EUA, which is why it is the first to have enough data to receive full approval. Moderna has also submitted an application for full approval, and the FDA is currently reviewing that data.

When a vaccine receives the FDA’s full approval, it’s no different than the vaccine people have been getting for months. It just means that there is even more data proving that it works and is safe. FDA approval requires a rigorous and structured review process, and it means that a vaccine has cleared every level of review. Compared to EUA, FDA approval of vaccines requires even more data on safety, manufacturing and effectiveness over longer periods of time and includes real-world data.

Learn more about the vaccines below, including how many doses to be fully vaccinated, how they work, how well they work, side effects, ingredients, and who they are and are not recommended for. 

About the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received FDA approval for people age 16 and older on August 23, 2021. This vaccine is also called Comirnaty. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine still has EUA for people 12 to 15 years old, which was issued on May 10, 2021.

Doses to be Fully Vaccinated
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two doses about 21 days apart. It takes 14 days after your second dose to be protected from COVID-19.

How It Works
mRNA vaccines are introduced into the body to tell the body to make a harmless piece of “spike protein.” Your immune system sees the spike protein doesn’t belong in your body and starts building an immune response. This means that the next time you come in contact with the virus that causes COVID-19, your body knows how to fight it off. Scientists have been researching this type of vaccine for decades.

How Well It Works
In clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 after two doses. It was equally effective among people of different races, ethnicities, genders and health conditions. The level of protection against the current variants of the virus is being tested.

Side Effects
Some participants in clinical trials showed a strong immune response, which often leads lead to some side effects. The second dose may result in a stronger immune response than the first dose. Side effects are normal and show that your body is building immunity to COVID-19.

Common side effects reported by some trial participants were:

  • Pain at the injection site (84.1%)
  • Fatigue (62.9%)
  • Headache (55.1%)
  • Chills (31.9%)
  • Joint Pain (23.6%)
  • Fever (14.2%)

Recommended for:

Not recommended for:
Children age 11 and younger. Pfizer-BioNTech started clinical trials with children under 12 years old in March 2021.

Talk to your health care provider if you:

  • Have had a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine or ingredients, including polyethylene glycol or polysorbate.
  • Have questions.

Ingredients
Similar to other vaccine ingredients: mRNA protein, fats, salts, and sugars. It contains polyethylene glycol and polysorbate. The vaccine does not have any fetal tissue, animal products, eggs, gelatin, latex, microchips, or preservatives

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Information

About the Moderna Vaccine

The Moderna vaccine received EUA on December 18, 2020. 

Doses to be Fully Vaccinated
The Moderna vaccine requires two doses about 28 days apart. It takes 14 days after your second dose to be protected from COVID-19.

How it Works
mRNA vaccines are introduced into the body to tell the body to make a harmless piece of “spike protein.” Your immune system sees the spike protein doesn’t belong in your body and starts building an immune response. This means that the next time you come in contact with the virus that causes COVID-19, your body knows how to fight it off. Scientists have been researching this type of vaccine for decades.

How Well It Works
In clinical trials, the Moderna vaccine was 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 after two doses. It was highly effective among people of different races, ethnicities, ages, genders and medical conditions. The level of protection against the current variants of the virus is being tested.

Side Effects
Some participants in clinical trials showed a strong immune response, which often leads lead to some side effects. The second dose may result in a stronger immune response than the first shot. Side effects are normal and show that your body is building immunity to COVID-19.

Common side effects reported by some trial participants were:

  • Pain at the injection site (92%)
  • Fatigue (70%)
  • Headache (64.7%)
  • Muscle pain (61.5%)
  • Joint pain (46.4%)
  • Chills (45.4%)
  • Nausea/Vomiting (23%)
  • Fever (15.5%)

Recommended for:

Not recommended for:
Children age 17 and younger. Moderna is currently running clinical vaccine trials with adolescents 12 to 17 years old. They also started a separate trial with children under 12 years old in March 2021.

Talk to your health care provider if you:

  • Had a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine or ingredients, including polyethylene glycol or polysorbate.
  • Have questions

Ingredients
Similar to other vaccine ingredients: mRNA protein, fats, salts, and sugars. It contains polyethylene glycol and polysorbate. The vaccine does not have any fetal tissue, animal products, eggs, gelatin, latex, microchips, or preservatives.

Moderna Vaccine Information

About the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) Vaccine

The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen Biotech, Inc.) vaccine received EUA on February 27, 2021.

Doses to be Fully Vaccinated
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one dose. It takes about 14 days after you get your vaccine to be protected.

How It Works
Vector vaccines use a modified virus like a cold virus that can’t make copies of itself or infect you. The vector virus tells your body to make harmless pieces of “spike proteins.” Your immune system sees the spike protein doesn’t belong in your body and starts building an immune response. This means that the next time you come in contact with the COVID-19 virus your body knows how to fight it off. Scientists have been researching this type of vaccine for decades. This type of vaccine was recently approved to prevent Ebola.

How Well It Works
In U.S. clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 72% effective against moderate illness, was 85% effective against severe COVID-19 and 100% effective against hospitalization and death. These tests were done while the variants were circulating, so these efficacy rates take variants into account.

Side Effects
The FDA reports milder side effects than those found in the two-dose mRNA vaccines. Common side effects reported in clinical trials were:

  • Pain at the injection site (48.6%)
  • Tiredness (38.2%)
  • Headache (38.9)
  • Muscle pain (33.2%)
  • Nausea (14.2%)

As vaccinations are being administered across the country, a small number of people had a rare and severe type of blood clot up to two weeks after vaccination. This side effect is extremely rare. People who get a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should immediately contact their health care provider.

Recommended for:

  • People age 18 and older, including older adults
  • People of all races, and ethnicities
  • People with medical conditions.
  • People who are pregnant and breastfeeding
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People who had COVID-19 infection and have recovered

Not recommended for:
Children age 17 and younger. Johnson & Johnson is running clinical vaccine trials with adolescents 12 to 17 years old.

Talk to your health care provider if you:

  • Had a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine or ingredients, including polysorbate.
  • Have questions

Ingredients
Similar to other vaccine ingredients: modified cold virus, proteins, fats, and salts. It contains polysorbate. The vaccine does not have any fetal tissue, pork products, eggs, gelatin, latex, microchips or preservatives.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Information

Frequently Asked Questions about the Vaccines

After Your Vaccine

More Vaccine Resources

Vaccine Facts

After Vaccine Information

V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker (CDC) available in English, Simplified Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.

In This Section

Find information about getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

View the number of people in Vermont who have received the vaccine. See vaccination rates by sex, age, race, ethnicity, and county.

The map of rate of vaccine by town has been moved to a new page in the Current Activity section.

Safe and effective vaccines are critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. We are building on a strong existing infrastructure, experience, and valuable partnerships to make sure all Vermonters have access to the vaccine.