by Anusha Amaravathi
It has been almost one year since the COVID-19 pandemic first struck the U.S. However, there is hope that it will end soon with the recent arrival of vaccines. A vaccine usually contains a weakened strain of a virus or a dead virus that stimulates our bodies to make antibodies to combat similar pathogens in the future. The COVID-19 vaccine is primarily being manufactured and distributed by the Pfizer and Moderna pharmaceutical corporations in the U.S. Both vaccines utilize mRNA and do not contain live viruses. This begs the question: how do the two vaccines compare?
Pfizer’s vaccine has been approved for people aged 16 and older. Latinos accounted for 28% of the trials’ participants. Pfizer’s vaccine requires that two doses be administered 21 days apart. This vaccine was found to have an efficacy of 95% against COVID-19 one week after the second dose. Side effects of the vaccine may include pain at the injection site, headache, and fatigue. However, the trial has yet to investigate the vaccine’s effects in adolescents younger than 16, children, and pregnant women.
Moderna’s vaccine has been approved for adults aged 18 and older. Latinos accounted for 21% of the trials’ participants. Moderna’s vaccine requires that two doses be administered 28 days apart. This vaccine was found to have an efficacy of 94.1% against COVID-19 two weeks after the second dose. The most common side effects were pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, and joint pain.
The vaccine is being distributed in several phases as recommended by the CDC. The plan is for the vaccine to be administered for free to the public. In New York, many individuals qualify to receive the vaccine: adults 65 years old or older, first responders, firefighters, police, correction officers, teachers, childcare providers, public transit workers, grocery store workers (including bodega workers), and individuals with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, pulmonary disease (such as asthma and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease), heart conditions (such as hypertension and coronary artery disease), obesity (BMI 30-40), and pregnancy. To find out if you qualify for the vaccine, download the “Am I Eligible” App or call 1-833-697-4829 to schedule an appointment. After scheduling an appointment, complete the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine form and bring proof of eligibility to your appointment (such as a letter from your employer and/or identification). It is crucial to receive the vaccine, wear a mask, and physically distance to avoid contracting and propagating the COVID-19 virus.
- Pfizer: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2034577
- Moderna: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa2022483
- NY Department of Health: https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/phased-distribution-vaccine
- CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html
Anusha Amaravathi was born in India and immigrated to Singapore when she was 7 years old. At the age of 10, she moved to the United States of America and grew up in Plainsboro, New Jersey. She is fluent in English, Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi and learnt Spanish in high school and college. She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Biology and a minor in Spanish while at Washington University in St. Louis. She is currently a medical student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and serves as a Clinic Coordinator at the UR Well Clinic (a medical student-run clinic) located at St. Luke’s Church.