Worried about the Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine? Don't be.
Updated: Feb 15, 2021
With Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine finally being distributed throughout the US, you may find yourself falling into the trap of worrying if the vaccine is safe. It was created at 'warp speed' and there is some concern about the perceived danger of the vaccine. But the Pfizer vaccine is pretty standard in terms of ingredients when compared to other vaccines.
According to Kyle Anderson, assistant professor of biochemistry, microbiology, and immunology at the University of Saskatchewan, the Pfizer vaccination is “almost simpler and more straightforward than any other vaccine.” And for the speediness of the vaccine, Anderson says we should get used to it; “this is the future of vaccines.” With a 95% effectiveness rate and no serious side effects, we should feel pretty confident about the safety of the vaccine.
In the following sections below, the 4 main ingredients of the Covid-19 vaccine are detailed:
Like most vaccines, Pfizer’s only active ingredient is 30 mcg of nucleoside modified messenger RNA (modRNA). This modRNA encodes the viral spike(s) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2. The messenger RNA technology sends pieces of genetic code to cells, messaging them to build proteins. For the Covid-19 vaccine, it triggers the production of Covid antibodies without using any bits of the virus itself.
Pfizer’s vaccine also contains lipids (0.43 mg (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 0.05 mg 2[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 0.09 mg 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and 0.2 mg cholesterol). The lipids are necessary for the mRNA to allow entry into cells so it can do its job. Without lipids, the mRNA would be broken down before the genetic material could enter the cell.
The lipids are where people may be seeing adverse effects to the vaccination. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is the suspected culprit, used to stabilize some vaccinations. But Pfizer’s vaccine contains only 0.05 mg of PEG, a small quantity even compared to other vaccines. Anderson noted that PEG is found in many commonly eaten foods, like red meat, and the quantity in food is much higher than what’s used in vaccinations.
The salts in Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine are potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, and dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate. All seen in extremely small quantities. Salts, like fats, are commonly used in vaccines to balance and stabilize. According to Anderson, the salts used in the Covid-19 vaccine are variants of salt found naturally in the body that balance our pH. The combination of salts will protect the lipid and mRNA while also helping the body absorb the solution.
Sugar water is used in the vaccination to protect and stabilize during freezing. It is another commonly used factor in vaccines.
While there is controversy over the vaccine, it appears to be both safe and effective. But while waiting, it is important to not neglect our health, especially through the winter months and to continue wearing masks. Click here to learn more about our recommendations to support your immune system through cold, flu, and Covid-19 season.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that more than 500,000 Americans will have died of the coronavirus by the end of March. It expects that vaccines will have saved 25,000 lives by then — but that broader mask usage in this period could save even more lives, 56,000.