Coke or Pepsi?
It’s not as simple when it comes to Pfizer or Moderna.
Once Florida has more than one COVID-19 vaccine option available to the general public, likely in the spring, will you be able to visit a vaccination site or your local pharmacy and pick the one you want?
Currently, the vaccine you get will depend on which one the facility you go to has in stock, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, which is tasked with the state’s vaccine distribution.
This applies to hospitals, state-supported vaccination sites Florida plans to open later (similar to COVID-19 testing sites) and local pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, which will eventually offer the vaccines to everyone like they do flu shots.
Part of this has to do with storage temperature. Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be kept at more than 100 degrees below zero, colder than winter in Antarctica, according to NPR. Pfizer’s vaccine can only be put in the refrigerator for up to five days before it expires while Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in normal freezers, CNN reports.
There’s also high demand ( both nationally and global) and limited vaccine availability.
However, as “vaccine distribution becomes more widespread, there may be more flexibility in the brand of vaccine an individual can receive,” a spokeswoman for the state’s emergency management division told the Miami Herald in an email.
If the option to select which vaccine you want eventually becomes available, it could be useful for those who might be allergic to one vaccine but not the other or for those who meet the age requirement for only one vaccine.
Both Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines were given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration this month. Pfizer’s vaccine requires two shots, three weeks apart, and can be given to people 16 and older. Moderna’s vaccine requires two shots, one month apart, and can be given to people 18 and older. Neither vaccine will give you COVID-19.
The two vaccines are not interchangeable, however, which means that if your first shot was the Pfizer vaccine, your second shot cannot be the Moderna vaccine, according to the CDC.
It’s likely the vaccines also won’t be the only ones available for long, either.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which would require a single dose, could be reviewed by the FDA in January for emergency use authorization, and AstraZeneca’s vaccine, Politico reports, could potentially file for emergency use later in February.