(Updated August 16, 2021)
The chart below provides dosing, storage, adverse effects, and efficacy information for COVID-19 vaccines available or submitted for approval in the U.S. and/or Canada. The American Society of Health System Pharmacists has resources related to COVID-19 vaccines at https://www.ashp.org/COVID-19/Vaccines?loginreturnUrl=SSOCheckOnly. See end of chart for links to the fact sheets and product labeling.
U.S.: Emergency Use Authorization
Canada: authorized by interim order.
Two 0.3 mL doses (0, 21 days) IM for ≥12 years of age18,19
Requires dilution with 1.8 mL of NS per vial.18,19
Special dry ice shipper: see footnote b for storage/handling
Thawing (required before diluting): may take ~two to three hours in the refrigerator, or 30 minutes at room temperature. Allow vial to reach room temperature before diluting. Do not refreeze.18,19
Refrigerator (2°C to 8°C):
Room Temp (up to 25°C): 2 hours, undiluted, 6 hours once diluted (vial or pre-drawn syringe)18,19,32
Most (>95%) adverse effects were mild to moderate.5
Local/injection site: mild to moderate pain in >65% of patients. Severe pain in <1%. Redness, swelling.5
Systemic: fatigue (<60%), headache (≤52%), myalgia (≤37%), chills (≤35%), arthralgia (≤22%), fever ≥38°C (≤16%).5 Less common: diarrhea (<11%), vomiting.17 Any severe event after first dose ≤0.9%, and <2% after the second dose, except fatigue (3.8%) and headache (2%).5
Local adverse effects resolve within one to two days.5 Systemic effects occur within the first one to two days, then resolve quickly.5 Participants were allowed to use analgesics/antipyretics.5
Adverse effect profile after the third dose is similar to the second dose.19
Appears better tolerated in older (>55 years of age) vs younger adults.5
Four cases of Bell’s palsy occurred in the vaccine group.17
Lymphadenopathy (16%) may interfere with imaging (e.g. mammography) for four to six weeks after vaccination.28
52.4% effective between dose one and two, starting ~14 days after the first dose.17 Israeli data suggests a 33% reduction in positive COVID tests (as opposed to symptomatic disease) in those ≥60 years of age.26
80% reduction in hospitalization after one dose in age >80 years (U.K. data).
95% effective (95% CI 90.3% to 97.6%) seven days after the second dose (n=43,448).5 NNVf = 71. 94.7% effective in adults ≥65 years of age.5
One severe COVID-19 case (nonhospitalized) in the vaccine group vs nine in the placebo group (88.9% effective after first dose).17
Immunocompromised patients were excluded from trials.5
Pediatric studies ongoing.17
Efficacy against infection with the UK variant may be ≥90%, and ~75% for the South African variant.1,2 Protection against severe disease approaches 100%.1,2
U.S.: Emergency Use Authorization
Canada: authorized by interim order
Two 0.5 mL doses (0, 1 month [day 28]) IM for
≥18 years of age6,21,22
Does not require dilution.21,22
Shipping and long-term storage: -50°C to -15°C until mfr expiration date.6 (Canada: -25°C to -15°C.)22
Refrigerator (2°C to 8°C): 30 days after thawing (prior to first use).6,22 After 30 days, contact manufacturer for
guidance before discarding.6
(8°C to 25°C):
>90% of adverse effects mild to moderate.4
Local/injection site: mild to moderate pain in >80% of patients. Severe pain in 2.8% of patients after the first dose; 4.1% after the second dose.4
Systemic: fatigue (68.5%), headache (63%), myalgia (59.6%), chills (43.4%), arthralgia (44.8%), fever (14.8%).4 Less common: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. Severe adverse events after 2nd dose: fatigue (9.7%), myalgia (8.6%), arthralgia (5.1%), headache (5.5%).4
Median duration of adverse effects was two days (three for local effects after 2nd dose).4 Participants were allowed to use analgesics/antipyretics.4
Appears better tolerated in older (≥65 years of age) vs younger patients.4
Three cases of Bell’s palsy
occurred in the vaccine group, one in the placebo group.4
Lymphadenopathy (16%) may interfere with imaging (e.g. mammography) for four to six weeks.28
Delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction (e.g., large, red area near injection site about a week after shot) is not a contraindication to subsequent vaccination.15 May be itchy, painful, warm, or swollen, and can also involve fingers, elbow, or palm. More common with first shot.15
92.1% effective between dose one and two, starting ~14 days after the first dose.4 Protection beyond 28 days after a single dose unknown.4
94.1% effective (95% CI 89.3% to 96.8%) 14 days after second dose (n=27,817).4 NNVf = 80. No cases of severe COVID-19 in the vaccine group vs 30 in the placebo group (starting 14 days after the 2nd dose).4
~25% of patients were ≥65 years of age, 9.4% had diabetes, ~6.5% had severe obesity, ~5% had significant heart disease, and ~5% had chronic lung disease.4
In vitro data suggest efficacy against the new UK and South African variants, but efficacy against the South African variant might wane.24,25 Unpublished data suggests efficacy of a booster targeting the South African and Brazilian strains. 3
U.S.: Emergency Use Authorization
Canada:authorized by interim order
One 0.5 mL IM dose for ≥18 years of age9,31 (two-dose regimen also being studied)
If arrives frozen, refrigerate, or for immediate use, thaw at room temperature (max 25°C). May take 2 hours to thaw.9
Refrigerator (2°C to 8°C): Mfr expiration date (unused vial);11,31 In-use vial/pre-drawn syringe: 6 hrs.11,31,32
Room temperature (9°C to 25°C): Unused vial: 12 hours. In-use vial/pre-drawn syringe: 2 hours (Canada: 3 hours)11,31,32
Phase III data:9
For preventing moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 disease 28 days post-vaccination, efficacy was 72% in the U.S., 68.1% in Brazil, and 64% in South Africa (n=29,371).9 There were no COVID-19 deaths in the vaccine group.9 Overall, it was 85.4% effective for preventing severe/critical COVID-19.9
Phase III data published.
Canada: authorized by interim order
Two 0.5 mL doses
4 to 12 weeks)
≥18 years of age8,30
Refrigerator(2°C to 8°C): Mfr expiration date (unused vial); 48 hours (punctured vial)8,30
Room temperature (≤30°C): 6 hours (punctured vial). Vial can be re-refrigerated, but the cumulative storage at room temperature cannot exceed 6 hours, and the total cumulative storage time cannot exceed 48 hours8,30
Meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) vaccine used as comparator to maintain blinding in regard to adverse effects.3
Transverse myelitis occurred in three patients (one placebo). A possible vaccine relationship was not ruled out in one case.20
Local/injection site (Phase II/III study): pain and tenderness occurred most often.15
Systemic (Phase II/III study):
occurred in most patients, most commonly fatigue, headache, feverishness, and myalgia.15 Other systemic side effects
were malaise and chills. Few patients
Better tolerated in older
patients.15 Adverse effects peaked day
Current evidence does not suggest thrombosis risk, except cerebral sinus vein thrombosis with low platelets (rare; 1 in 250,000 to 500,000).29
Among patients who received two full dosesc 4 to 12 week apart, in the UK and Brazil (n=10,468):8,30
Efficacy better with 12-week interval.8,30
80% reduction in hospitalization after one dose in age >80 years (UK data).33
Phase III; rolling review process in U.S. and Canada14
Two doses IM (0, 21 to 28 days)7
Refrigerator (2°C to 8°C)7
Occurred in most patients, especially after the second dose. Mean duration was ≤2 days.29
Local/injection site (Phase I/IIa study): pain and tenderness (mild to moderate) occurred most often.29
Systemic (Phase I/IIa study): headache, fatigue, and myalgia occurred most often. A few patients experienced severe adverse effects (fatigue, myalgia, arthralgia) after the second dose. Other systemic side effects were nausea and malaise.29
In UK, 89.3% effective overall, and 95.6% effective against original strain.14 Up to 60% effective against the South African variant.10
- In Canada, AstraZeneca vaccine is also manufactured by Serum Institute of India (Covishield).
- Pfizer vaccine storage and dry ice safety handling resources at https://www.cvdvaccine-us.com/product-storage-and-dry-ice.
- Some other patients in the studies received only a half-dose for the first dose due to manufacturing error.16,20
- Efficacy = Based on reduction of documented COVID-19 infections (COVID-19 symptoms plus confirmatory test for SARS-CoV2 test [polymerase chain reaction]).17,19,20 This means we do not know if the vaccine prevents asymptomatic infection.
- USP: Vaccines should be prepared in accordance with the manufacturer’s labeling. This means that USP engineering controls, risk levels, and beyond-use dating is not required. See https://www.usp.org/compounding.
- NNV is the number needed to vaccinate to prevent one symptomatic case.
- Tips to minimize vaccine waste include:23,34
- Maintain the cold chain to prevent waste due to inappropriate storage conditions.
- Maximize doses drawn from multidose vials using:
- low dead-volume syringes/needles.
- techniques to minimize leakage (e.g., multiple puncture locations in the rubber stopper, instead of the same location over and over [this can create a larger hole]).
- Draw up an appropriate number of syringes based on expected vaccination appointments for the day.
- Monitor appointment cancellations and no shows throughout the day. Then draw up afternoon doses based on the revised appointment list.
- Use syringes in order of expiration time, starting with the earliest expiration date.
- Maintain a waiting list to contact people at the end of the day if there are extra doses available.
Abbreviations: IM = intramuscular; NS = normal saline; UK = United Kingdom
The CDC has interim recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine administration errors and deviations available at https://cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/downloads/covid19-vaccine-errors-deviations-poster.pdf.
Fact Sheets and
- Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine EUA fact sheet for healthcare professionals (U.S.): https://www.fda.gov/media/144413/download
- Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine EUA fact sheet for patients (U.S.): https://www.fda.gov/media/144414/download
- Moderna vaccine EUA fact sheet for healthcare professionals (U.S.): https://www.fda.gov/media/144637/download
- Moderna vaccine EUA fact sheet for patients (U.S.): https://www.fda.gov/media/144638/download
- Janssen (J&J) vaccine EUA fact sheet for healthcare professionals (U.S.): https://www.fda.gov/media/146304/download
- Janssen (J&J) vaccine fact sheet for patients (U.S.): https://www.fda.gov/media/146305/download
- Current Canadian product monographs for Covid-19 vaccines available in Canada can be found at Health Canada’s Drug Product Database (https://health-products.canada.ca/dpd-bdpp/index-eng.jsp).
- Abu-Raddad LJ, Chemaitelly H, Butt AA, National Study Group for COVID-19 Vaccination. Effectiveness of the BNT162b2 Covid-19 vaccine against the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants. N Engl J Med 2021 May 5. doi:10.1056/NEJMc2104974.
- Haas EJ, Angulo FJ, McLaughlin JM, et al. Impact and effectiveness of mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations, and deaths following a nationwide vaccination campaign in Israel: an observational study using national surveillance data. Lancet 2021 May 5. doi:/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00947-8.
- Moderna. Press release. Moderna announces positive initial booster data against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. May 5, 2021. https://investors.modernatx.com/node/11836/pdf. (Accessed May 10, 2021).
- FDA. FDA Briefing document. Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Meeting. December 17, 2020. https://www.fda.gov/media/144434/download. (Accessed February 7, 2021).
- Polack FP, Thomas SJ, Kitchin N, et al. Safety and efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. N Engl J Med 2020;383:2603-15.
- CDC. Moderna COVID-19 vaccine questions. Last reviewed June 2, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/moderna/moderna-faqs.html. (Accessed June 16, 2021).
- Novavax. Clinical trial protocol. A phase 3, randomized, observer-blinded, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity of a SARS-Co-V-2 recombinant spike protein nanoparticle vaccine (SARS-CoV-2 rS) with Matrix-M1 adjuvant in adult participants ≥18 years. November 16, 2020. https://www.novavax.com/sites/default/files/2020-12/Novavax_2019nCoV-301_Protocol_%20Phase%203-Redacted.pdf. (Accessed February 25, 2021).
- Product monograph for Covishield/COVID-19 Vaccine (ChAdOx1-S). Verity Pharmaceuticals. Mississauga, ON L4W 4Y9. April 2021.
- FDA. Fact sheet for healthcare providers administering vaccine (vaccination providers). Emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). April 23, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/media/146304/download. (Accessed April 24, 2021).
- Shinde V, Bhikha S, Hoosain Z, et al. Efficacy of NVX-CoV2373 Covid-19 vaccine against the B.1.351 variant. New Engl J Med 2021 May 5. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2103055.
- CDC. Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). Page last reviewed March 11, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/janssen/index.html. (Accessed March 19, 2021).
- CDC. CDC recommends use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine resume. May 6, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/JJUpdate.html. (Accessed May 11, 2021).
- FDA News. Severe allergy added to EMA’s list of AstraZeneca vaccine side effects. March 16, 2021. https://www.fdanews.com/articles/201861-severe-allergy-added-to-emas-list-of-astrazeneca-vaccine-side-effects. (Accessed March 20, 2021).
- Novavax. Press release Novavax announces start of rolling review by multiple regulatory authorities for COVID-19 vaccine authorization. February 4, 2021. https://ir.novavax.com/node/15531/pdf. (Accessed February 7, 2021).
- Blumenthal KG, Freeman EE, Saff RR, et al. Delayed large local reactions to mRNA-1273 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. N Engl J Med 2021;384:1273-7.
- Anon. AstraZeneca, Oxford acknowledge manufacturing error in potential COVID-19 vaccine. November 26, 2020. https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/astrazeneca-oxford-acknowledge-manufacturing-error-in-potential-covid-19-vaccine-2020-11. (Accessed February 7, 2021).
- FDA. FDA Briefing document. Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meeting. December 10, 2020. https://www.fda.gov/media/144245/download. (Accessed February 7, 2021).
- Product monograph for Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer Canada. Kirkland, QC H9J 2M5. May 2021.
- FDA. Fact sheet for healthcare providers administering vaccine (vaccination providers). Emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Revised August 12, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/media/144413/download. (Accessed August 16, 2021).
- Voysey M, Costa Clemens SA, Madhi SA, et al. Safety and efficacy of the ChAdOx1CoV-19 vaccine (AZS1222) against SARS-CoV-2: an interim analysis of four randomised controlled trials in Brazil, South Africa, and the UK. Lancet 2021;397:99-111.
- FDA. Fact sheet for healthcare providers administering vaccine (vaccination providers). Emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). August 12, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/media/144637/download. (Accessed August 12, 2021).
- Product monograph for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (Canada). Moderna Therapeutics. Cambridge, MA 02139. June 2021.
- Coppock K. ISMP provides recommendations for avoiding COVID-19 vaccination administration errors. January 15, 2021. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/ismp-provides-recommendations-for-avoiding-covid-19-vaccination-administration-errors. (Accessed May 10, 2021).
- Tanne JH. Covid-19: Moderna plans booster doses to counter variants. BMJ 2021;372:n232.
- Wu K, Werner AP, Moliva JI, et al. mRNA-1273 vaccine induces neutralizing antibodies against spike mutants from global SARS-CoV-2 variants. medRxiv 2021.01.25.427948 https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.25.427948. (Accessed February 7, 2021).
- Mahase E. Covid-19: reports from Israel suggest one dose of Pfizer vaccine could be less effective than expected. BMJ 2021;372:n217.
- CDC COVID-19 Response Team, Food and Drug Administration. Allergic reactions including anaphylaxis after receipt of the first dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine-United States, December 21, 2020-January 10, 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:125-9.
- NCCN: Cancer and COVID-19 Vaccination. Recommendations of the NCCN COVID-19 vaccination Advisory Committee. Version 2.0. March 10, 2021. https://www.nccn.org/docs/default-source/covid-19/2021_covid-19_vaccination_guidance_v2-0.pdf?sfvrsn=b483da2b_56. (Accessed March 19, 2021).
- Thrombosis Canada. Thrombosis Canada updated statement on AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots. March 18, 2021. https://thrombosiscanada.ca/tc-updated-statement-march-18/#:~:text=%C2%A0Toronto,%20Ontario%20(March%2018,%202021)%E2%80%93%20Thrombosis%20Canada%20has,that%20is%20associated%20with%20thrombocytopenia%20(low%20blood%20platelets). (Accessed March 24, 2021).
- Product monograph for AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine (ChAdOx1-S). AstraZeneca Canada. Mississauga, ON L4Y 1M4. April 2021.
- Product monograph for Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Janssen.Toronto, ON M3C 1L9. April 2021.
- USP. COVID-19 vaccine handling toolkit: beyond use date in vial or syringe for COVID-19 vaccines fact sheet. Last updated April 6, 2021. https://www.usp.org/covid-19/vaccine-handling-toolkit. (Accessed May 10, 2021).
- Iacobucci G. Covid-19: single dose of Pfizer and Oxford vaccines cuts risk of hospital admission by 80% in over 80s, data suggest. BMJ 2021:372:n612.
- USP. COVID-19 vaccine handling toolkit: operational considerations for healthcare practitioners. Version 3.0. March 2021. https://www.usp.org/covid-19/vaccine-handling-toolkit. (Accessed May 10, 2021).
Cite this document as follows: Clinical
Resource, COVID-19 Vaccines. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter. March 2021.