by Jordan Chan
Local News Editor
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 11 and Dec. 21, respectively. Both vaccines work by using mRNA to instruct cells to produce a certain protein in the virus that allows patients to develop an immunity. So far, there is no evidence that one vaccine is more effective or safer than the other.
The Pfizer vaccine calls for two doses 21 days apart, and it has authorization for use on patients aged 16 and older. Administrators inject the vaccine into the upper arm muscle, and patients may experience side effects for a few days following vaccination. These side effects can include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headaches, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever.
The Moderna vaccine calls for two doses 28 days apart, and it has authorization for use on patients aged 18 and older. Administrators inject the vaccine into the deltoid muscle at the top of the shoulder. The Moderna vaccine can cause the same side effects as the Pfizer vaccine, and it may also cause nausea, vomiting, and swelling in the lymph nodes located in the punctured arm. Regarding both vaccines, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “Side effects may feel like flu and even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.” Patients may notice that the side effects worsen after their second dose of either vaccine.
Although the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine are similar, they have different storage requirements; the Pfizer vaccine stores at negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit and can be refrigerated after thawing for up to five days, while the Moderna vaccine stores at negative four degrees Fahrenheit and can be refrigerated after thawing for up to 30 days.
The CDC adopted recommendations from the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) on the phases for administering COVID-19 vaccines to the general public. Phase 1A prioritizes the vaccination of healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. Phase 1B focuses on frontline essential workers, like firefighters, educators, and grocery store workers, and people aged 75 and older. Phase 1C will deliver vaccines to people aged 65 to 74 and high risk individuals between the ages of 16 and 64. These individuals must have underlying medical conditions — such as severe obesity, type one diabetes, or serious heart diseases — that increase their likelihood of encountering serious or life-threatening complications from the virus. Phase 1C also extends vaccination to a broader variety of essential workers like workers in communications, energy, law, public safety, and public health.
U.S. Continuity of Government protocols prioritize the vaccination of top government officials in the three branches of government. These protocols exist to ensure that the United States’ constitutional government functions no matter the circumstances. There are no further recommendations for COVID-19 vaccination at this time. However, as the availability of vaccines changes, recommendations will extend to others.
(Sources: AP, CNN, CDC, ACIP, FDA, Forbes)