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Yale Medicine Vaccine Content Center

January 29, 2021

COVID-19 has changed so many aspects of our lives. Yearning to get back to the way life was before, everyone is looking forward to the introduction of vaccines, a major tool in helping to move past the pandemic.   

Yale Medicine is committed to providing up-to-date information on every aspect of this public health crisis. Our goal for this page, which will be updated as we add new articles and videos, is to provide a resource where you can get answers to your vaccine-related questions and also connect to other information about COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccine comparison

As the weeks pass, countless reports are coming out about the effectiveness of new vaccines that may be approved. It’s important to keep up, but it’s also a daunting task, given the flood of information (and misinformation) coming at us from so many directions.

So, how do they differ? Here’s what we know so far.

Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are being administered in the U.S. right now, Johnson & Johnson applied for emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its COVID-19 vaccine in February, and others are on track to do the same. Even though you will likely not be able to choose which vaccine you will get, it’s still helpful to know how each one is different.

With that in mind, we mapped out the differences between the most prominent vaccines so far.

[Read the article.]

What is it like to get a COVID-19 vaccination?

Two vaccines, one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and one by Moderna, were each found to be approximately 95% effective in clinical trials and given Early Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2020. And more are on the way. So, the question remains: What is it like to get a COVID-19 vaccine?   

We made a list of top concerns and asked Onyema Ogbuagu, MBBCh, a Yale Medicine infectious diseases specialist and Yale’s leading expert on COVID-19 vaccines, to share insights.

[Read the article.]

Understanding how the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work

Much has been made of the fact that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines involve Messenger RNAs (mRNAs). But how does mRNA work?

In this video, Yale experts Saad Omer, MBBS, MPH, PhD, Onyema Ogbuagu, MBBCh, and Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, explain the science behind these mRNA vaccines.

[Watch the video.]

Why get the COVID-19 vaccination? One woman’s story

Sandra Trevino, LCSW, is a founding member of Yale’s Cultural Ambassadors program—a 10-year-old organization whose mission is to broaden community participation in clinical trials at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation—and is doubling her efforts to help educate people about COVID-19 vaccines.  

In December, the Kaiser Family Foundation released results of a survey in which more than one-quarter of Americans said they would probably or definitely not get the vaccine. Republicans, and rural and Black Americans were most hesitant, according to the survey. 

“It’s a great responsibility to make sure we continue to address the elephant in the room, which is mistrust with regard to the vaccines,” says Trevino.  

In a recent interview, she explained why she’s encouraging everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine and talked about her own family’s experience with COVID-19. 

[Read the Q & A.]

The Vaccine is here: Your questions answered

The new COVID-19 vaccine is here. But it’s still hard to know exactly what this will mean in our individual and collective lives.  

For questions—big and small—we went to our foremost expert for a frank, socially distanced question-and-answer session. Onyema Ogbuagu, MBBCh, is a Yale Medicine infectious diseases specialist and the principal investigator of the COVID-19 vaccine studies supported by the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation at Yale School of Medicine, in partnership with the Yale New Haven Health System.

[Read the interview.]

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

Vaccines are one of the most effective tools we have in preventing and reducing the burden of infectious diseases. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are once again poised to change the tide in our favor in the fight against a deadly virus. But how exactly do vaccines work? And are they safe?

Watch this video to learn more about the fundamentals of how vaccines work, how they are developed, and the importance of vaccination for public health.

[View the video on vaccine fundamentals.]

Vaccine basics

We’ve been told that a vaccine that confers total protection against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, would bring a return to normalcy. In March of 2020, health experts said the timeline for an effective vaccine could be 12-18 months—yet, it seems we have one even sooner than predicted. But people are wondering: will it be safe? Will it be effective?  

Yale Medicine has compiled this basic explanation of vaccines—how they work, what’s different from one kind to the next, and the approval process—and what that means for a COVID-19 vaccine.

[Read the vaccine primer.]

Q & A with a vaccine expert

We spoke with Saad Omer, MBBS, PhD, MPH, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, to get answers to the hard questions on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines in development. The shortened timelines surrounding the development of these vaccines, coupled with concerns over what some feel is undue political influence over the release of them, is concerning to many Americans.  

We sat down with Dr. Omer, who addresses these concerns.

[Read the Q & A.]