Person receiving vaccination in arm

At this time, there are three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States: Moderna, Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Johnson & Johnson.

All three have undergone extensive testing and either have been granted full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or are available under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

In many ways, these vaccines are alike, including the fact that they were developed using the same rigorous vaccine testing process as all vaccines in the U.S. Most importantly, all three vaccines are highly effective against severe illness, hospitalization and death.


Still deciding about the vaccine or know someone who is? See these 7 reasons to get the vaccine.


Comparing the Vaccines

How the Vaccines Are the Same

  • All three vaccines are highly effective against severe illness, hospitalization and death.
  • The vaccines are not authorized for children under age 5. Children under age 5 will not be vaccinated until additional studies are complete, but studies are ongoing.
  • The vaccines cannot make you sick. None of the vaccines contain the live virus or any component of the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Vaccinated people may still be able to transmit the virus to others.
  • Eligible people may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose.

How the Vaccines Are Different

Moderna Vaccine

Vaccine type: Messenger RNA (mRNA)
Vaccine components: View FDA Fact Sheet
Number of doses required: 2 doses of the same vaccine, a minimum of 28 days apart
Time to reach full protection: 14 days after the second dose
Booster shots available: Yes, for certain people
Third dose for immunocompromised people: Yes, at least 28 days after the second dose
FDA status: Ages 18 and up, booster dose for certain people and third dose for immunocompromised people (FDA EUA)
Storage: Cold (-13 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit)

About the Moderna Vaccine

Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) Vaccine

Vaccine type: Messenger RNA (mRNA)
Vaccine components: View FDA Fact Sheets for people ages 12 and older or for people ages 5 to 11
Number of doses required: 2 doses of the same vaccine, a minimum of 21 days apart
Time to reach full protection: 14 days after the second dose
Booster shots available: Yes, for certain people
Third dose for immunocompromised people: Yes, at least 28 days after the second dose
FDA status: Ages 16 and up (FDA-approved); ages 5-15, booster dose for certain people and third dose for immunocompromised people (FDA EUA)
Storage: Ultracold (-112 to -76 degrees Fahrenheit)

About the Pfizer Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Vaccine type: Viral vector
Vaccine components: View FDA Fact Sheet
Number of doses required: 1 dose
Time to reach full protection: 14 days after vaccination (one dose only)
Booster shots available: Yes, for people 18 and older at least two months after first dose
Additional dose for immunocompromised people: No
FDA status: Ages 18 and up and booster dose (FDA EUA)
Storage: Refrigeration

About the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Updated 11/11/2021


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