Person receiving vaccination in arm

At this time, there are three COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use: Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).

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 nearly 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

Yet, there are a few differences among the vaccines, including that two are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and one is a viral vector vaccine.

Keep in mind that you will not be able to choose the vaccine that you get. Instead, the vaccine you get will depend on what is available at the time of your appointment. When it is your turn, you should get the vaccine that is available to you.

Comparing the Vaccines

How the Vaccines Are the Same

  • All three vaccines are nearly 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and death. 
  • The vaccines are not approved for children. The vaccines' clinical trials did not test them in children, but studies are ongoing. Children will not be vaccinated until additional studies are done.
  • 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. The clinical trials were not designed to determine if or how well the vaccines would stop transmission of the virus to others. This is why it is important to continue wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, even after you have been vaccinated.

How the Vaccines Are Different

Moderna Vaccine

Vaccine type: mRNA 
Dosing: 2 doses, a minimum of 28 days apart
Time to reach full protection: 14 days after second dose
Authorized for: People age 18 and up
Storage: Cold (-13 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit)

About the Moderna Vaccine

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

Vaccine type: mRNA 
Dosing: 2 doses, a minimum of 21 days apart
Time to reach full protection: 14 days after second dose
Authorized for: People age 16 and up
Storage: Ultracold (-112 to -76 degrees Fahrenheit)

About the Pfizer Vaccine

Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) Vaccine

Vaccine type: Viral vector
Dosing: 1 dose
Time to reach full protection: 28 days after vaccination (one dose only)
Authorized for: People age 18 and up
Storage: Refrigeration

About the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson Vaccine)

Updated 3/5/2021


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