Ingredients in both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are posted below. I'll summarize what they do, what the risks are and why I think the risks are small compared to getting a natural COVID infection. At this point we have no data to support one of these being safer or more effective than the other. Moderna's vaccine is easier to ship and distribute due to more forgiving handling requirements.
mRNA: See my previous post for what the star of the show does. Some important things to note: 1. mRNA is very short lived. Your own enzymes destroy it after translation to spike protein. You make and destroy mRNA all the time.
2. The mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell and its information is NOT translated into your DNA (master genetic material).
Lipid nanoparticles: This is the technology that allows the inherently unstable mRNA to be protected long enough to get into the body intact. The main lipid (fatty molecule) in each vaccine has an electrical charge so it attaches firmly to the mRNA. The others help improve handling and consistency. Despite their unpronounceable chemical names these are familiar to the body. For example, the ALC 3015 in Pfizer is derived from vanillin, a substance found in vanilla extract. Polyethylene Glycol, which is in both vaccines, is used as a bowel prep and is in many foods and cosmetics. These molecules have the potential to cause allergic reactions. Anyone who has a high-level allergy (hives, low blood pressure, problems breathing) to injected medications should consult your doctor and vaccinate at a healthcare facility equipped to deal with allergic reactions.
Salts/Buffers: These are well studied simple chemicals commonly used in medications to adjust the chemistry to be closer to that of your body.
Things that are NOT in these vaccines:
Adjuvants: These are molecules that can provoke a stronger response from the immune system and are often used in vaccines. The most commonly used ones contain aluminum. Their benefit is they make the desired immune response stronger and longer lasting. While there has been controversy about their use, we have no evidence they are unsafe. Expect at least some of the future COVID vaccines to have them.
Preservatives: None of any kind. No mercury, no thimerosal. Downside is they require cold storage and handling, ultra-cold for the Pfizer vaccine, which has increased the cost and complexity of mass immunization. Expect future vaccines to have them.
There are no markers that will inform anyone that you have been vaccinated. No luciferase. No microchips. Not even a national database.
In summary, these are very clean vaccines and present fewer risks for allergic and adverse immune responses than many others we use. The common side effects: sore arm, achiness, fatigue, fever, are short lived, usually 1 or 2 days. These are expected when the immune system is activated and not signs of damage to the body. I was glad to see that the ingredient list for these two first vaccines was shorter and more pronounceable than that of most processed foods! So I am happy to lower the danger of COVID for myself, my family, and my community by accepting the very small risk of vaccinating.
Will post on the immunologically vulnerable in the coming days. People with allergies, suppressed immune systems and autoimmunity. Risks from natural COVID infection vs vaccine! Stay tuned.
Vaccine ingredients: Pfizer and Moderna. Active Ingredient: nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS-CoV-2 Lipids: Pfizer (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis (ALC-3015) (2- hexyldecanoate),2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide (ALC-0159) 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine (DPSC) cholesterol Moderna: (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]) Salts/Ph Balancing: Pfizer: potassium chloride monobasic potassium phosphate sodium chloride basic sodium phosphate dihydrate Moderna: tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate Other: sucrose