Are there differences between the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines?

Are there differences between the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines?

Answer

There are only a small number of differences between the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

The differences between the two vaccines are as follows:

  • The vaccines contain different additives.
  • The Moderna vaccine is authorised for those aged 12 and over. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is authorised for those aged 5 and over.
    (For children from 5 to 11 a special children’s vaccine with modified dosage and composition is used.)

In many respects the two vaccines are similar or the same.
The similarities between the vaccines are as follows:

  • They are both mRNA vaccines.
  • Both vaccines have similarly high efficacy of 95 and 94 per cent respectively.
  • Both vaccines are well tolerated.
  • Two vaccinations are necessary.
  • The second vaccination follows around four weeks after the first.
  • The second vaccination must be with the same vaccine as the first.
  • Both vaccines contain polyethylene glycol (PEG). COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended if you have a serious confirmed allergy.
What side effects can occur after the vaccination?

What side effects can occur after the vaccination?

Answer

The vaccines administered in Switzerland are safe and effective. As is the case with all medications, vaccines can cause side effects. They are usually mild and of short duration.

Common side effects include:

  • Reaction at the injection site such as pain, redness and swelling
  • Headache, fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • General symptoms such as shivering, feeling feverish or temperature

In very rare cases, severe side effects may occur, such as an allergic reaction. Such a reaction usually occurs immediately after the vaccination and is easy to treat. In individuals with a history of severe allergic reactions, appropriate precautionary measures must be observed in the event of a vaccination.

In very rare cases, inflammation of the heart muscle or the pericardium has been observed shortly after vaccination with an mRNA vaccine (usually within 14 days). The majority of these cases were mild and could be treated effectively. Typical symptoms of heart muscle inflammation are chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and palpitations. Consult your doctor immediately if you experience such symptoms. However, such inflammations occur much more frequently with an infection with the coronavirus than after vaccination.

In isolated cases, rare types of blood clot (particularly in veins in the brain and abdomen, and in the arteries) have been observed within the first three weeks of vaccination with the Janssen viral vector vaccine. These incidents were severe, but only occurred in very rare cases (in between one and eight in 1 million people) after vaccination with the Janssen viral vector vaccine.

Apart from this, no serious side effects have been reported in the studies conducted or by the persons who have been vaccinated since. Any possible side effects are being monitored by specialists on an ongoing basis.

Severe side effects must be reported to the authorities. The Swissmedic reporting office assesses any reports and, if concerning patterns emerge (e.g. an increase in specific reports), initiates an investigation into a possible correlation with the vaccine.

You will find more information on the side effects of authorised vaccines on the Infovac website (in German, French and Italian).

In connection with this topic you’ll also find an explanation of the redness and swelling that can affect the arm that has been injected with the vaccine in the answer to the following question: What is COVID arm?

How long after the vaccination can side effects occur?

How long after the vaccination can side effects occur?

Answer

Generally any side effects can be expected in the first 6 months after the vaccination. However, most side effects occur shortly after the vaccination. As a rule they are mild and last only a short time. Similar to the side effects of other vaccinations, these are mostly reactions at the injection site (pain in particular, but also redness and swelling) or general symptoms (such as fatigue, headache, aching muscles and joints or fever).

Contact your doctor if the side effects last for a longer period or get worse, or if there is a change in your wellbeing in the weeks after the vaccination.

Can having the vaccination trigger a positive test result?

Can having the vaccination trigger a positive test result?

Answer

No. The vaccination cannot result in a positive PCR or rapid antigen test result.

This is because the mRNA or DNA that enters the body through vaccination and the protein subsequently produced are not detected by PCR or rapid antigen tests. The tests detect other components of the virus.

If you are tested positive after the vaccination it means you became infected with the coronavirus before you had built immune protection – or that you have caught the virus despite the vaccination. This is because no vaccination guarantees 100% protection. In rare cases a test may also yield a false positive.

Can the COVID-19 vaccination affect the menstrual cycle?

Can the COVID-19 vaccination affect the menstrual cycle?

Answer

It cannot be ruled out that the vaccination has a short-term effect on the strength and regularity of menstruation. So far there have been no studies of this. However, more prolonged negative effects on menstruation are not known, nor are effects on fertility. Nevertheless, there are indications that a COVID-19 vaccination can lead to temporary disruptions to the cycle.

There are many factors that can influence the menstrual cycle. Basically any illness or vaccination can affect it short term. There can also be an effect on the cycle if, for example, the body is under stress.

It is important to point out that reactions such as spotting or post-menopausal bleeding can also be warning symptoms of diseases that need to be investigated and have occurred only coincidentally around the time of the COVID-19 vaccination. In such cases it is essential that patients obtain medical advice.

You can have the vaccination at any point during your menstrual cycle.

What is COVID arm?

What is COVID arm?

Answer

COVID arm describes the redness and swelling, sometimes over a large area, that can affect the arm where the vaccine has been injected  after receiving an mRNA vaccine. If these reactions occur around the injection site, in most cases it’s a week or so after the vaccination. They have been observed more frequently after vaccination with the Moderna vaccine. According to the latest findings, these reactions occur in around 8 in 1,000 people after the first dose of vaccine. They occur in around 2 out of 1,000 vaccinated people after the second dose.

If the reactions occur after the first dose of vaccine, there is no reason not to have the second dose. Neither does it mean that you will also experience the reaction with the second dose. It’s important to have the second vaccination. Only then are you as well protected as possible from the coronavirus. If you experience reactions after the first dose, it’s probably best to have the second dose of vaccine injected into your other arm.

Good to know:

According to the latest findings, these are temporary reactions connected with the body’s building its own immune defence. The reactions are unpleasant but harmless. They will disappear after a few days without treatment, and do not have any long-term consequences. Cooling the affected area may provide relief. If you have pronounced symptoms, talk to your doctor. They’ll be able to advise you on how get additional relief from the symptoms.