Does it matter which one I get? Comparing the three COVID-19 vaccines

By , KCBS Radio

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, we've gone from no options to three very quickly.

Since we've repeatedly been told how amazing the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are, some people have questions about the latest single-shot option offered from Johnson & Johnson.

"The bottom line is get the vaccine you’re given," UCSF infectious disease specialist, Dr. Peter Chin- Hong, told KCBS Radio's "As Prescribed."

"I think it’s golden when you do get that email notification or that text message, then you definitely go and get it because you just don’t know when next appointments will be," he said.

He explained that while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is different from the Pfizer and Moderna shots, it's just as effective at preventing severe disease and death. "One stop shopping, one shot needed, no severe disease, no hospitalizations, and no deaths from the people who got the vaccine," he said. "An amazing vaccine."

Dr. Chin-Hong said that it is difficult to compare the Johnson & Johnson vaccine directly with the others because it was tested later in the pandemic, when more coronavirus variants were circulating, and - encouragingly - was shown to perform well against them.

He added that the Johnson & Johnson version is also less likely to cause severe allergic reactions, though the risk is very low with the others, too.

No matter what vaccine you get, new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said you will be more free to get together with others.

"I love the CDC guidance," Dr. Chin-Hong said. "Just because they went into some murky territory. The murky territory, of course, is in the mixing of the vaccinated with the non-vaccinated people, and I think they were really trying to get grandparents who have been vaccinated feeling okay about hugging their grandkids, which, in essence, is going to be really fine."

The next thing to look out for, he said, may be more guidance on traveling when vaccinated.

"I think the CDC and others are worried about spring break coming up, weather getting better," he said. "We saw what happened last spring break a year ago, and I think some people have public health PTSD from that."

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