At this time, supplies are very limited and the vaccine which is offered to you is the vaccine you should get. If you choose to get vaccinated, getting vaccinated as soon as you are able is the priority. The more doses we can quickly distribute, the more of the public that can be vaccinated, helping with herd immunity and also reducing the development of COVID-19 variants.
As Dr. Fauci advised at a recent press conference by the White House’s COVID-19 response team, “Viruses cannot mutate if they can’t replicate…[i]f you stop their replication by vaccinating widely … not only are you going to protect individuals from getting disease, but you are going to prevent the emergence of variants.” (NPR)
The mRNA vaccines – PfizerBioNTech and Moderna – have similar efficacy (~95%) in preventing symptomatic disease. At this time, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administration has been paused (see “What vaccines are currently available” for more information”). When looking at the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the level of protection against moderate to severe COVID-19 infection was 72% in the United States. Although this is lower than the mRNA vaccines, it is important to understand that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still very effective, particularly against severe disease. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 85% percent effective in preventing severe disease 28 days after vaccination and that efficacy against severe disease increased over time with no cases in vaccinated participants reported after day 49.
The currently available vaccines – PfizerBioNTech and Moderna – have similar efficacy (94-95%). Even as additional vaccines (e.g. Johnson & Johnson, Novavax) become available with potentially less efficacy, they are still very effective, particularly in preventing severe disease. The efficacy seen in clinical trials for PfizerBioNTech and Moderna vaccines is exceptionally high for a vaccine. According to the CDC, studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.
Some may wonder if they should wait until there is an updated vaccine that targets the new variants. This is NOT recommended. It is advised that everyone interested in vaccination do so as soon as they are eligible, and it is available.