What vaccines are currently available?

Currently, there are three vaccines now authorized and recommended in the United States to prevent COVID-19:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (mRNA vaccine)
  • Moderna vaccine (mRNA vaccine)
  • Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (vector-based vaccine)

mRNA Vaccines (Pfizer-BionTech and Moderna)

These vaccines have genetic material called mRNA or “messenger RNA” that is taken from the virus. Once injected, this material tricks our bodies into producing a spike protein unique to the virus. When our immune systems detect this protein, they then create cells that recognize and destroy it. These immune system cells remain in our bodies for long periods, giving us protection against the virus. The mRNA vaccines do not alter your genes, nor can they give you COVID-19.

Vector-based Vaccine (Johnson & Johnson)

The Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is a one dose, adenovirus-based vaccine.  Researchers genetically altered a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in so it carried a gene for the COVID-19 spike protein; this will train a person’s immune system to recognize the real coronavirus. It was approved for Emergency Use Authorization on February 27, 2021.  The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the vaccine on February 28, 2021.



Updated: March 1, 2021