Here’s Everything We Know About the COVID-19 Vaccines as of December 2021

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Throughout 2020, the world’s leading scientists, virologists and researchers worked tirelessly to engineer safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in record time. In November of that year, all of that work precipitated some exciting news: Both Pfizer and Moderna revealed that their vaccines had demonstrated remarkable success in protecting against COVID-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer's vaccine for Emergency Use Authorization on December 11, 2020, and, just a week later, the authorization was issued for Moderna's vaccine. A third vaccine, created by Janssen, was given Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA on February 27, 2021. Sometime this year, a fourth vaccine candidate, developed by AstraZeneca, might join them.

In the days immediately following the Pfizer authorization, shots were shipped out across the country and healthcare workers began receiving the first doses of that vaccine. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine formulations require two full doses and, in the end, are remarkably effective, with a 94-95% efficacy rate. The Janssen vaccine requires one dose, and it has an efficacy rate of 66% against moderate COVID-19 cases and 85% efficacy against severe COVID-19.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have also provided significant protection against the Delta strain of COVID-19; Pfizer has a range of 42% to 88% effectiveness while Moderna has a range of 72% to 95% effectiveness. The Janssen vaccine, conversely, is much less potent, totaling around 67%. Research on this particular topic is still ongoing, and each vaccine may prove to be more (or less) effective in time. Health officials are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated - and for immunocompromised citizens to get an additional "booster shot" to protect themselves from COVID infections. Moreover, the FDA fully approves of the Pfizer vaccine and will now refer to it as "Comirnaty"

President Biden also unveiled a new COVID-19 Action Plan in September 2021. This plan includes a vaccine mandate for all federal employees and contractors. Biden also seeks approval for a vaccine mandate specific to the private sector.

Let's take a look at the effectiveness of the vaccine distribution and fact-check some of America’s biggest safety concerns regarding immunization.

Editor’s Note: As we’ve witnessed since March 2020, information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly changing — and the latest on the vaccines is no exception. While we aim to keep our articles as up-to-date as possible, please be sure to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website as well for the latest news. Curious about how the COVID-19 vaccines were created? We’ve covered that in How Was the COVID-19 Vaccine Developed?