I’ve heard from a few people who’ve gotten the AstraZeneca vaccine recently that maybe they should’ve waited for Pfizer or Moderna. After all, those latter two have efficacy rates around 95%, while AZ is somewhere in the mid-60s. That’s a notable difference. Or is it?

The efficacy number basically tells you the percentage reduction in disease with respect to vaccinated vs. unvaccinated people. A 95% reduction in the test groups of P & M vs. a 65% reduction with AZ.

But what that’s really measuring is whether you get it at all. What if you get it asymptomatically? Of the 30% difference, what if all of those case are insignificantly mild?

As it turns out, there’s a better number to look at… hospitalizations and deaths. As has been quoted widely, there is a 100% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths with Pfizer and Moderna. What about AstraZeneca, and other vaccines? Here’s a list of the “Big 6”, and their percentages of preventing hospitalizations and deaths… not efficacy:

Pfizer: 100%
Moderna: 100%
Janssen (J&J): 100%
Sputnik V: 100%
NovaVax: 100%
AstraZeneca: 100%

So… ask me again, “Should I get vaccinated?” Yes, you should. “Does it matter which one I get?” No, it doesn’t. If you want to avoid serious illness, they will all do the job. And as much as we’ve heard about Pfizer and Moderna and AstraZeneca… the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be here by the end of the month, and if I had the option to pick one, that’s the one I would go with. One single jab, and a month later… you’re as immune as you’ll ever be, with zero chance of serious illness.

I recently had a discussion with someone that hinged on the “You don’t know what’s in it” argument. Actually, you do… the ingredients are all listed publicly, for all of them. There is a popular meme going around questioning people who’ll eat junk food without knowing what’s in it, but would hesitate with a vaccine… and that’s the thing; it all ends up in your bloodstream. One way or the other, that’s where it has to go to make its way around your body. To what degree it’s been broken down or metabolized or synthesized or whatever… food, water, medicine, drugs… if it’s not getting into your bloodstream, it’s not doing much. If you’re eating McRibs, but fear getting vaccinated, you might need to rethink the logic.

There are places in the world drowning in excess vaccine, but B.C. isn’t one of them. For the moment, there is a consistent demand by everyone who wants to get it… because, so far, it’s only been 16% of us. That number will rise significantly in the near future as more doses arrive, but now we’re in a bit of a race. Ontario is facing crisis numbers and lockdowns and school closures, and we’re on that exact path unless things change, probably a month behind… and with hospitalizations and ICU cases rising sharply over the weekend, we’re into a critical week. Some say it’s not too late, some say it’s inevitable.

What’s the efficacy rate of enough people doing what we need to do to prevent this from getting out of hand? An excellent question. We’ll be finding out in the next couple of weeks.