What Are the Different Types of COVID-19 Vaccines?

In mid-2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that COVID-19 vaccines began development shortly after the first wave hit North America. Since then, many other companies and experts have also done what they can to speed up its research and development.

All vaccines have been proven safe and effective in fighting against the virus. Yet many Filipinos remain uncertain or even apprehensive about getting vaccinated due to many reasons, like lack of credible information or fear of experiencing side effects from the vaccines.

Luckily, this guide aims to help you better understand the types of COVID-19 vaccines and which one you can feel the most comfortable and safe with.

 

4 Types of COVID-19 Vaccines

Currently, there are four main types of COVID-19 vaccines: whole virus, protein subunit, viral vector, and mRNA. These vaccines use different methods in introducing a pipeline for your body to develop immunity against the virus and reduce your chances of experiencing severe disease that can lead to death.

 

1. Whole Virus Vaccine (Inactivated Vaccine)

Whole Virus Vaccines use two methods: live attenuated and inactivated vaccines. Both contain either a small part or the entirety of the pathogen that causes the disease. In simple terms, they are a weaker version of natural pathogens. Currently, only the inactivated vaccines are in use.

When injected into our bodies, it triggers an immune response where the Killer T cells, helper T cells, and other immune cells fight off the virus. After this encounter, the memory cells can remember how to fight against this virus and provide better immunity in the future.

  • Sinopharm
    • Efficacy rate: 79% against symptomatic COVID-19
    • Required doses: two doses, three weeks apart
    • Safety profile: Most common side effects include pain in the injection site, rash, muscle/joint pains, fever, and nausea.
  • Sinovac
    • Efficacy rate: 65.3%-83% against symptomatic COVID-19
    • Required doses: two doses, four weeks apart
    • Safety profile: Most common side effects include pain in the injection site, fever, and fatigue, as well as headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

 

2. RNA or mRNA Vaccine

An mRNA vaccine is a new approach that can help protect you from infectious diseases. The vaccine allows your body to make the virus spike proteins and trigger an immune response in return.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are just as effective as other COVID-19 vaccine types. Some brands of COVID-19 vaccines that use this include:

  • Moderna
    • Efficacy rate: 92% in preventing COVID-19 infection
    • Required doses: two doses, 4 weeks apart
    • Safety profile: Most common side effects are pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle/joint pain, chills, nausea/vomiting, fever, and swelling at the injection site. (Source)
  • Pfizer/BioNTech
    • Efficacy rate: 95.3% against severe COVID-19
    • Required doses: two doses, four weeks apart
    • Safety profile: Most common side effects are pain in the injection site, fatigue, headaches, and body aches. (Source)

 

3. Viral Vector Vaccine

This type of vaccine works by giving the body’s cells genetic instruction on how to produce virus spike proteins. The genetic code of SARS-CoV 2 spike proteins are incorporated in a harmless virus, such as adenovirus and injected to the body. These vaccines mimic natural infections to trigger an immune response in the body. Some brands of COVID-19 vaccines that make use of this method include:

  • AstraZeneca
    • Efficacy rate: 76% against symptomatic COVID-19
    • Required doses: two doses, 8-12 weeks apart
    • Safety profile: The AstraZeneca vaccine got a lot of attention after some people developed blood clots after vaccination, but investigations say this is a very rare side effect, which may occur in 4-6 people out of every million inoculated with the vaccine.

      More common side effects include pain around the injection site, tiredness, headache, and fever/chills.
  • Johnson & Johnson
    • Efficacy rate: 66.9% against symptomatic COVID-19
    • Required doses: one
    • Safety profile: Most common side effects are injection site pain and swelling, as well as more general side effects like headache, tiredness, muscle ache, fever, and nausea. Just like Astra Zeneca vaccine, blood clots development is a rare side effect.

 

4. Protein Subunit Vaccine

Protein Subunit type vaccines use part of the virus that triggers the body’s immune system to create protective proteins against infections.

  • NovaVax
    • Efficacy rate: 89.3% in preventing COVID-19
    • Required doses: two doses, 4 weeks apart
    • Safety profile: Most common side effects include pain in the injection site, rash, headaches, muscle pain, fever, and nausea.

 

Getting vaccinated

Depending on where you live, you may have various options on which COVID-19 vaccine to take. If that’s the case, then go for the one you’re most comfortable with.

On the other hand, if there’s only one brand of vaccine available to you, then take it! Getting vaccinated is still better than nothing. As long as a vaccine has emergency use authorization, they’re considered safe and effective in helping you prevent COVID-19 infection.

Read more about COVID-19 vaccines on our COVID-19 PH Resource Center.

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