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If given the choice of the three currently available COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, would take any of them. "I would pick the one that was the most readily available to me," said Fauci on Friday's Late Show With Stephen Colbert. "All three of them are highly efficacious. They have different characteristics, you know, cold storage, one dose versus two doses. But if I walked into a clinic and I wanted to get vaccinated and someone said, 'You could have this vaccine now or wait a few weeks for the next one', the important thing is to get vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can in order to protect yourselves, your family and the community." Read on for more about which vaccine you should take—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
How the three vaccines compare
According to the CDC, 18.6 million people have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine and 17 million with the formulation by Moderna. Slightly more than 1.1 million people have been fully vaccinated with the more recently approved single shot by Johnson&Johnson.
"I happened to take the Moderna, because in the clinic at the NIH where I am, that was the one they shipped to us," said Fauci. "But if they had shipped another one, I would have readily taken that."
In clinical trials, the two-shot regimens produced by Moderna and Pfizer were found to be 94% and 95% effective, respectively, while the Johnson&Johnson vaccine was found to be 72% effective in the U.S.
But experts say the Johnson&Johnson shot isn't inferior to the Moderna and Pfizer versions. They point out that only the Johnson&Johnson clinical trials were recent enough to measure efficacy against new COVID-19 variants; the Johnson&Johnson shot's effectiveness rate might be higher if it included a second dose; and all three vaccines are nearly 100% effective against preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
Last week, President Biden directed states to make all Americans eligible for vaccination by May 1. He has pledged to have enough vaccine available to vaccinate all eligible Americans by the end of that month.
In the Colbert interview, which marked the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, Fauci noted that the target date for all Americans being vaccinated had moved up by two months. "Which is really good news," he said. "Which means we likely will have the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated much, much sooner than we originally had planned."
That means Americans could have a taste of normality, including partial-capacity audiences at live events, by early fall, Fauci said, with the caveat that the vast majority of Americans would need to be vaccinated by then.
How to survive this pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.