Breaking down the differences between coronavirus vaccines

Vials to be filled up with COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at the Delpharm plant in Saint-Remy-sur-Avre, west of Paris, Friday, April 9, 2021 in Paris.
Vials to be filled up with COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at the Delpharm plant in Saint-Remy-sur-Avre, west of Paris, Friday, April 9, 2021 in Paris. (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While the FDA and CDC have put a pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, for now, the medical community still recommends people get either the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine to protect against the coronavirus in the meantime.

That’s because the science behind the vaccines differs.

Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna were all approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. The AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in other parts of the world, but not here in the U.S. primarily over concerns of potential blood clot issues similar to the six cases connected to the J&J vaccine.

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Vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca use a weakened version of a virus called Adenovirus while Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technology.

While the mRNA technology is fairly new in its widespread use, the Adenovirus is very common. In the vaccine world, it’s been used in the fight against tuberculosis, HIV and the flu for years.

“So, what they do with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is they use a vector with the Adenovirus which is actually a part of the virus that’s inactive and they put in a part of the protein which in this case is the spiked protein for COVID-19 into that vector so that it can get into cells easily,” said Duval County Medical Society Foundation President Dr. Sunil Joshi.

Dr. Joshi explains once that happens, the body is triggered to create antibodies which in this case would be COVID-19.

MORE | What local doctors are saying after J&J vaccine pause

On the other hand, Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technology which does not use any virus dead or alive but instead sends directions to the cells to create those same spike proteins.

Dr. Joshi says the vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are very similar.

However, because Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are very different medical experts say it should not deter you from getting a shot.


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