Clinical Updates On COVID-19 Vaccine Options for Patients

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Regardless of which of these vaccines patients receive, as long as they receive them according to the prescribed schedules, they can protect themselves and their community against the COVID-19 virus.

Today, when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination, there are multiple options available for patients. The currently FDA-authorized vaccines include options from Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty), Moderna (Spikevax), and Novavax (Covovax). All of these vaccines are given intramuscularly in the upper arm for both adults and children.¹

Many individuals have questions about the ingredients in these vaccines. For those interested, health care providers should always mention that these vaccines do not have preservatives such as thimerosal or mercury, they do not contain antibiotics, and do not contain medications, food proteins, metals, or latex materials.¹

Closeup of biontech pfizer and moderna spikevax mrna covid-19 vaccine vials.

Image credit: Trsakaoe

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, such as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines, are designed to instruct the body’s cells on how to make a protein that can trigger the immune response. The mRNA portion from the vaccine is then broken down within a few days after vaccination and is discarded from the body. Some of the ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine include nucleoside-modified mRNA encoding the viral spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2, lipids, sugars, and tromethamine.2

Some of the ingredients in the Moderna vaccine include mRNA nucleoside-modified mRNA encoding the viral spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2; lipids; salt and sugars including sodium acetate and sucrose; tromethamine; and acetic acid (the main ingredient in white household vinegar).3

The ingredients in the Novavax vaccine include SARS-CoV-2 recombinant spike protein; lipids such as cholesterol and phosphatidylcholine; adjuvants such as fraction A and fraction C of Quillaja saponaria Molina extract; and salts and sugars.4

Many patients question how well these vaccines work. Research has repeatedly shown that those that are up to date with their vaccinations have a lower risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, compared to those who are not vaccinated or have not completed their required doses. The updated 2023 COVID-19 vaccines can provide additional protection to those who may be exposed to COVID-19 virus.¹

Some of the adverse effects related to these vaccines include body ache, fever, chills, tiredness, headache, and injection site pain. Some individuals may experience severe allergic reactions to these vaccines as well, so it is important for the vaccination team to be prepared to respond to such events. Some cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have also been reported in those receiving the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.¹

The Pfizer vaccine comes in a multi-dose vial with a yellow cap for ages 6 months through 4 years; a single dose vial with a blue cap for ages 5 to 11 years; and a single dose vial with a gray cap for those 12 years and older.²

The Moderna vaccine comes in single dose vial with a dark blue cap and green label for those ages 6 months to 11 years old, and a single dose vial with a dark blue cap and blue label for those ages 12 years and older. The dosing for those aged 6 months to 11 years old is 0.25 mL, and 0.5 mL for those 12 years and older.³

The Novavax vaccines come with a blue cap and blue label. They are indicated only for those 12 years and older and should be administered 0.5 mL intramuscularly.⁴

Regardless of which of these vaccines patients receive, as long as they receive them according to the prescribed schedules, they can protect themselves and their community against the COVID-19 virus and the possible consequences that may come with it.

References

1. Overview of COVID-19 Vaccines. CDC. Updated October 16, 2023. Accessed November 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/overview-COVID-19-vaccines.html

2. Updated (2023-2024 Formula) Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. CDC. September 29, 2023. Accessed November 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/pfizer/downloads/vaccine-at-a-glance.pdf

3. Updated (2023-24 Formula) Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. CDC. October 5, 2023. Accessed November 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/moderna/downloads/vaccine-at-a-glance.pdf

4. Updated (2023-2024 Formula) Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine. CDC. October 31, 2023. Accessed November 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/novavax/downloads/novavax-at-a-glance.pdf

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