As new vaccines against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) become available, you may have questions about whether one type of vaccine is better than another. There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna, and the viral vector vaccine from Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.
The short answer, from NYU Langone experts in infectious disease, is this: any vaccine is worth getting because they are equally good at preventing severe disease.
“It doesn’t matter which COVID-19 vaccine you get,” says Jennifer L. Lighter, MD, hospital epidemiologist at NYU Langone. “Just get it, as soon as you become eligible.”
All three vaccines excel at preventing hospitalization and death. And that is the true measure of a vaccine’s success.
“The vaccines are proven to prevent severe disease, and that is our goal,” Dr. Lighter says.
The initial studies on each vaccine report different effectiveness rates between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which hover around 95 percent, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is 72 percent. But people should not assume based on those findings that any of the vaccines is better than the others.
There are many factors to consider when looking at the effectiveness of a vaccine, Dr. Lighter says, and the most important one is the number of vaccinated people who died from the disease. And that number, across all of the vaccine clinical trials, is zero, even in locations such as Brazil and South Africa where variants of the virus were circulating.
“None of the trial participants who got the vaccine died from COVID-19,” says Dr. Lighter. “The fact is that COVID-19 is here, and it’s probably going to be here forever. If someone gets a mild infection, even after vaccination, that is not something of concern. What we need is for people to stay out of the hospital and reduce their risk of death. That’s what vaccines are for, and that’s why we want to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible.”
When you are offered a vaccination appointment at NYU Langone, you may receive any of the vaccines that are currently approved, based on our available supply. While we cannot give you a choice of vaccine, you’ll be informed which one you receive at the time of your appointment.
If you are a patient at NYU Langone and you are eligible for vaccination, you’ll be notified by text message or email when we are able to offer you an appointment. When you are notified, we encourage you to sign up for a vaccination appointment right away through your NYU Langone Health MyChart account. If you don’t yet have a MyChart account, you can create your account now.
The most important thing is for as many people to be vaccinated as possible because that is what will help slow the circulation of the virus—ensuring that fewer people become severely ill from COVID-19.
“There is no clinically significant difference between these vaccines,” says Dr. Lighter. “None. So please, do not hesitate to get vaccinated.”