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Pfizer vs. Moderna: Is one better than the other?

A number of coronavirus vaccines are coming to market and there are some differences to know about.

TAMPA, Fla. — As more people get in line for COVID-19 vaccines, we're getting more questions about the vaccines that are currently available.

In the United States, only vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are available under emergency use authorization. AstraZeneca is gearing up for distribution in Europe and Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is in the final stages of its clinical trial.

Here are answers to some of your biggest questions about the vaccines.

What are the main differences between the vaccines?

The biggest difference is not one the average person has to worry about, but rather a concern for hospitals and pharmacies distributing the vaccine: temperature. Pfizer requires ultra-cold storage and Moderna can be stored at regular freezer temperatures.

AstraZeneca can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures, possibly making distribution a lot easier.

In fact, Pfizer and Moderna have more commonalities than differences.

"They're formulated similarly, they're both mRNA vaccines, they should both work exactly the same way," said Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist at USF Health.

How are the vaccines alike?

Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are two-part doses. Pfizer requires two doses 21 days apart, Moderna requires two doses 28 days apart. Both have similar efficacy rates of about 95 percent. 

Johnson and Johnson's upcoming vaccine would only require one dose.

How do the vaccines work?

Here's where differences do come in. Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines which basically means they teach your body to create antibodies to the virus without using the virus itself.

AstraZeneca on the other hand uses a different technology. It uses a harmless modified version of the common cold virus to teach your body how to respond to COVID-19 infection.

RELATED: A simple breakdown of mRNA vaccine technology and spike protein

Will the vaccines protect against variant COVID-19 cases?

So far, research has only been done on Pfizer's vaccine when it comes to COVID-19 variants. Researchers believe it will protect against variants, which is promising for the other vaccines as well.

RELATED: County-by-county COVID-19 vaccine information for Tampa Bay seniors

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