Your COVID-19 vaccine questions, answered: What are the side effects? What are the Pfizer vaccine ‘ingredients?’
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized the first coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, and distribution of Pfizer’s vaccine was underway over the weekend.
Moderna has also applied for emergency use authorization for its two-shot vaccine candidate, and more companies are expected to apply in the coming months. Meanwhile this week, Canada and the United Kingdom also authorized the widespread use of Pfizer’s vaccine. As vaccines are being produced in record time, what do we know about these shots? What are the side effects? Will you be immune? And will you have to take the vaccine once or every year? We know you have questions, and we’re here to help. Ask us your vaccine questions through this online form, and we’ll speak with public health experts to answer them below.
Here’s what we know:
Is there a vaccine for the coronavirus?
There are more than 200 vaccine candidates under development, with 52 in clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization. As of late November, Phase 3 clinical trials were in progress or being planned for five vaccines in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S., United Kingdom and Canada have authorized the use of a vaccine developed by drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech. China and Russia began rolling out their own vaccines before completing late-stage clinical trials.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday released a 53-page report summarizing data from Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 candidate vaccine trial. The data supports earlier findings that the vaccine is safe and will prevent 95% of people from becoming sick with COVID-19.
Historically, major vaccines have not been tested during pregnancy because of concerns that both the pregnant person and fetus would be at risk for complications. Pregnant and nursing people were not included in the Pfizer/BioNTech study, so there is no data to suggest whether they should avoid vaccination. Dr. Peter Marks, who directs the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, said Saturday that pregnant people, children and those who are immunocompromised should discuss vaccination with their providers and “will need to consider on an individual basis.”