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Comparing the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 7:17 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2021 at 7:47 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Louisiana currently has 210 locations across the state where either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is being administered. That number has doubled in the last week due to the state needing to get rid of stock.

There have been over 368,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine distributed to Louisiana and over 43 percent of those have already been administered.

For the people receiving the vaccine, there isn’t much difference between the two. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine are both around 95% effective and both come with the same side effects which include headaches and soreness. For those receiving the vaccines, they have to keep track of what specific vaccine they got, which will determine when they need to get the second one.

Pfizer’s vaccine requires the second dose to be administered 21 days apart from the first and Moderna’s vaccine requires the shot to be given 28 days after the first.

One of the main differences is the temperature that the vaccine has to be stored at. For Moderna, their doses can be stored at standard temperature and can be frozen for six months. The Moderna vaccine can also be refrigerated for 30 days. However, Pfizer’s vaccine requires it to be stored in extremely cold temperatures at -94 degrees, which many hospitals and pharmacies don’t have access to.

CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital is the only hospital in the region that has ultra-cool storage.

Both vaccines come in their own vials, but for every vial, the Pfizer vaccine can only make five doses from it while the Moderna vaccine can make 10 doses.

Dr. David Holcombe with the Office of Public Health said they would like to shift primarily to Moderna for pharmacies so they can properly store the vaccine.

“Storage is a challenge but the physical problem of getting people in and getting them vaccinated is also a problem. If you have huge amounts of doses sitting in refrigerators, then they will cut down the allocations proportionally,” Dr. Holcombe said.

State health officials have reported that 228 vaccines have been lost with 120 of those coming after a power outage in Baton Rouge.

Pharmacies across the state have been backed up as the want for the COVID-19 vaccine has largely exceeded the supply. Dr. Holcombe said it has also been recommended to lower the age limit for those who can currently receive the vaccine from those 70 and older to 65 and older. If the age limit does change, the availability of the doses would cause an even bigger delay than there already is.

Dr. Holcombe said, “It has resulted in a large amount of frustration in that age group who are concerned because they don’t want to die from this disease but also can’t get the vaccine.”

In Rapides Parish, there are approximately 22,000 people ages 65 and older. However, there are currently six places in the parish administering the vaccine which means only 600 doses are coming in per week.

Dr. Holcombe said that the Office of Public Health had to start vaccinating people in Catahoula Parish since there weren’t any vaccination sites there before. He added that they have requested 3,000 doses of the vaccine per week, 2,000 of them for Rapides Parish.

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