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Why are there so many different vaccines?

Two more vaccines could be available in the U.S. before the end of May.

ATLANTA — ATLANTA – Two more vaccines may be available in the United States before the end of spring, adding to the choices available to those who want protection against COVID-19.

Three different pharmaceutical companies are producing vaccines that are now going into the arms of Americans across the country. Moderna, Pfizer, and J&J could soon be joined by AstraZeneca and Novavax as those companies say they’re close to requesting emergency authorization from the F.D.A.

 According to the World Health Organization, there are seven vaccines at work across the globe and research is underway on 200 more. They use a variety of ways to deliver information that teaches our body’s immune system to fight COVID-19.

“When you’re in a crisis like this you need more than just one vaccine,” said Public Health Microbiologist Dr. Amber Schmidtke.

The diversity of the world requires a diverse approach to battling COVID-19 according to Dr. Schmidtke. For example, the two-dose vaccines that have helped millions in the United States have to be stored in a deep freeze.

“They’re not ideal for certain populations including doing door-to-door vaccination efforts where you may not have a negative 20-degree freezer you’re dragging behind you,” said Schmidtke.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can survive six months in standard refrigeration. It’s the vaccine that has been granted emergency use in developing nations.

“They wanted to develop something that was inexpensive, had very easy storage requirements, and a single dose,” Schmidtke explained.

The two-dose vaccines used in the U.S. since December are appealing because of their 94-95% effectiveness. Dr. Schmidtke says there are some situations where requiring two shots would pose more of a challenge.

“It’s harder to follow up with certain people,” said Schmidtke. “Maybe they’re migrant workers and harder to follow up, so getting a single dose to those people is critically important.”

Healthcare experts say wherever you are, make sure to get whatever vaccine is available.


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