As Luxembourg enters phase 2 of its national vaccination campaign, and more questions are being raised about who should get which vaccine, RTL Today seeks to clarify a common question: Can I choose between vaccines?
In short, the answer is no. Even though there are differences between the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca jabs, the Ministry of Health confirmed to RTL Today that "due to logistical reasons there is no possibility to choose between vaccines". It is up to the doctor at the vaccination centre, who meets with all patients prior to administering the jab, to prescribe the vaccine best suited for the patient based on their medical history.
As may be the case with regular medication, patients can have a preference between producers. Should the doctor prescribe a vaccine the patient does not agree with, and the alternative is not available, the patient has the right to decline being vaccinated. European governments have reiterated that any vaccine is better than no vaccine.
Further questions and answers can be found in the government's Q&A document.
The ministry goes on to reiterate that all vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, and thus made available in Luxembourg, are safe for use. There is thus no concern about major gaps in efficacy.
Pfizer/BioNTech v Moderna v AstraZeneca
There are differences between vaccines. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines contain parts of the genetic information of the virus (RNA or DNA), which provide the blueprint for viral proteins. After vaccination, the genetic information is taken up by human body cells and used as a template to produce the antigens themselves. We have a video on how that works here, and an excellent guest article by Dr Angela Marley (PhD) here.
The AstraZeneca jab is a more common "vector vaccine" using a cold virus modified with spike protein to make it similar to Covid-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which could be the fourth vaccine to be administered within the EU, is similar to that of AstraZeneca.
Citing a lack of data about efficacy in the elderly, Germany's vaccine commission said AstraZeneca was recommended only for people aged 18 to 64 years old. Officials in Italy, Austria and Bulgaria were also starting to signal some public resistance to the British vaccine, and France's Health Minister Oliver Veran got the jab live on television to drum up support.