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About the vaccines

The first two vaccines have now been approved for use in Denmark.

Read the pamphlet

Vaccination against COVID-19

FAQ - Information on the vaccines

1. How are the COVID-19 vaccines approved?

When vaccines are evaluated for approval, experts from the Danish Medicines Agency work with colleagues from the other EU countries under the auspices of the European Medicines Agency  (EMA). If the EMA then concludes there is sufficient scientific evidence of the vaccine's efficacy and safety from large-scale clinical trials, it is approved for distribution throughout the EU countries. EMA has now approved the first COVID-19 vaccines and has determined that their efficacy outweighs any side effects.

Although we all wish for vaccines to be quickly and readily available, in terms of quality, efficacy and safety, COVID-19 vaccines are subject to same rigorous testing, scientific evaluation, approval and monitoring that applies to all medicines in the EU. 

Learn more about the development, evaluation, approval and monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines on EMA's website.  

The Danish Health Authority is responsible for rolling out the national COVID-19 vaccination scheme. The Authority is already in charge of other national vaccination schemes such as annual influenza vaccines and the Danish Childhood Vaccination Programme.  

Once the vaccines have been approved and transported to Denmark, they are distributed and administered to the target groups as soon as possible, a logistic exercise that requires extensive coordination among the parties involved. The Danish Health Authority's planning aims at ensuring that the process does as smoothly as possible. 

2. Which vaccines will you be offered?

The first approved vaccine against COVID-19 is called Comirnaty® and was developed by the German company BioNTech in collaboration with the American company Pfizer. The supplies of Comirnaty® that we receive in Denmark are manufactured in Germany and Belgium.

The second vaccine approved for use in the EU - and therefore also in Denmark - was developed by the American company Moderna. Covid-19 vaccine Moderna® is based on the same technology as Comirnaty® and manufactured in Switzerland and Spain. The vaccines are very similar in terms of efficacy and safety.

Comirnaty® has been tested on and approved for people over 16 years of age while COVID-19 vaccine Moderna® has been tested on and approved for people over 18 years of age. Neither vaccine is approved for use on pregnant or breastfeeding women. 

The Danish Health Authority decides which vaccine are used on which target groups. Consequently, you cannot choose which vaccine you get.  

3. What is in the vaccines?

Comirnaty® and COVID-19 vaccine Moderna® are both so-called RNA vaccines. RNA is a naturally occurring signalling agent in human body cells that encodes the formation of certain proteins. RNA vaccines work by containing a specific code that stimulates the body's cells to produce a protein (S-protein) that resembles the surface of novel coronavirus.

The RNA vaccines work by encoding for spiked proteins that resemble the surface of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, they can stimulate the body's immune system to recognise this protein as foreign, and produce antibodies and activate T cells (white blood cells) to attack it and protect you against becoming infected and ill. RNA vaccines do not contain live virus, the active ingredients in the vaccine are broken down after they have done their job, and the vaccine's RNA does not affect the body's own DNA. 

Comirnaty® and COVID-19 vaccine Moderna® also contain additives which, among other things, are intended to stabilise RNA. RNA is wrapped in a small ball of fat that protects RNA from degradation and enables absorption into the body's cells. Some people (with so-called macrogol allergies) are allergic to one of the fat components, polyethylene glycol. The vaccines also contain minimal amounts of cholesterol, sugar and various salts. 

4. Do the vaccines contain pork gelatin? 

There is no pork gelatin in the Comirnaty® vaccine. We do not yet know if this is also the case with the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna®

5. Can you choose which vaccine you get?

No, you cannot choose which vaccine you get. 

Because we only get limited vaccine supplies, and because the vaccines have to be stored and handled under very specific conditions, we need to keep the distribution of vaccines under strict control.

Every dose counts, and we do not wish to waste any vaccine, which is why you cannot choose which vaccine you will be getting. The same also applies to the childhood vaccination programme and other free national vaccination programmes in Denmark. 

6. How have the vaccines been studied and tested?

Both of the approved COVID-19 vaccines have been studied and tested in extensive clinical and randomised trials, in which half of the human volunteers were given the vaccine, and the other half were given a placebo (saline injection). Upwards of 40,000 volunteers participated in the extensive trials - more than eight times the usual number in vaccine trials.

The volunteers were and continue to be monitored to see whether they get COVID-19 and whether they experience any adverse side effects. Many of them had minor and transient side effects when they were vaccinated, which is quite normal and evidence that your body's immune system reacts as it should to the vaccine. No unacceptable side effects were recorded during the trials. From other vaccines, we know that almost all side effects after vaccination occur within the first six weeks. 

The Danish and European medicines authorities closely monitor the vaccines after they are approved - both in terms of how well they work and how many side effects they cause.

The European Medicines Agency impose exactly the same strict requirements on vaccines' efficacy and safety as they always do.

Read more on EMA's (the European Medicines Agency's) website 

7. How well do the vaccines protect you?

Comirnaty® has an efficacy rate of about 95%, and COVID-19 vaccine Moderna® of about 94% - meaning that 95% of people who are vaccinated with Comirnaty® and 94% of those vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine Moderna®, respectively, will be protected from getting COVID-19.

The vaccine efficacy rate is calculated by a comparative study of the number of people who became infected with COVID-19 in the vaccination group with the number of people who became infected in the placebo group. 

Efficacy of Comirnaty®

Only 8 out of the total of 18,198 people who received Comirnaty® were infected with COVID-19 during the trial period compared to 162 COVID-19 cases out of 18,325 in the group injected with a placebo saline solution. In other words, they were over 20 times as likely to get the virus than those who were injected with the vaccine.

The trials also showed that Comirnaty® has the same high efficacy among the elderly and people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine Moderna®

Similarly, in the covid-19 vaccine Moderna® trials, COVID-19 illness was confirmed in 11 participants out of 14,134 people in the group who received the vaccine compared to 185 out of 14,073 people in the placebo group. In other words, they were 17 times as likely to get the virus.

The difference between the numbers of people infected with COVID-19 in the two groups corresponds to an efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna® of approximately 94%.

The trials of the COVID-19 vaccine Moderna® also showed the same high efficacy across age groups and among those with risk factors.

Applies to both vaccines 

The trials for both approved COVID-19 vaccines showed that the full efficacy is achieved after two injections with the same vaccine. For Comirnaty® the maximum efficacy was reached after two vaccines given at an interval of 19-42 days. For COVID-19 vaccine Moderna®, maximum efficacy occurred after two vaccines given at an interval between 22-43 days.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that most people achieve some protection already a couple of weeks after the first injection, but the full effect has only been documented from one week after the second injection if you are vaccinated with Comirnaty® and two weeks after the second injection if you are vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna®.

It is important to stress that vaccination does not give you 100% protection against COVID-19. So, in principle, you may still become infected with and ill from COVID-19 even if you have been fully vaccinated, but this will only rarely happen.

We do not yet have evidence as to how long the protection of the vaccine will last. Therefore, we cannot say whether the protection will last for many years or whether you may need to be revaccinated again later to remain protected.

It has not yet been established whether either vaccine prevents the vaccinated person from carrying the virus and spreading the infection to others. However, we expect to receive this documentation in due course.

8. What side effects do the vaccines have?

All vaccines have side effects, and this also applies to Comirnaty® and the COVID-19 vaccine Moderna®. In general, these are mild and transient, and we consider Comirnaty® and COVID-19 vaccine Moderna® to be very safe and highly documented vaccines. 

Most people will experience at the injection site. Other common side effects include fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills, a slight rise in temperature and redness and swelling at the injection site. These are generally signs that your body's immune system is reacting as it should to the vaccine. You do not need to call your doctor if you experience these known and transient side effects.

In rare cases, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) may occur, which may be caused by, for example, allergy to the additives in the vaccines. 

If you have previously had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or after injecting a medicine, please consult your doctor before COVID-19 vaccination. If you are allergic to macrogoler/PEG/polyethylene glycol, do not get vaccinated with Comirnaty® or COVID-19 vaccine Moderna®

Please know that emergency staff will always be on hand to deal with rare allergic reactions.

Experience with other vaccines tells us that almost all side effects occur within the first six weeks after vaccination. They very rarely occur later. 

Danish and European medicines authorities monitor the vaccines closely, not only in terms of how well they work but also how many side effects they cause.

Further information

Product characteristics Cominarty®

Product characteristics COVID-19 vaccine Moderna® 

9. Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

None of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in the EU contains active or inactive viruses. Therefore, there is no risk of infection with COVID-19 during vaccination.

10. Can you go out and buy a COVID-19 vaccine?

It is not possible to buy the vaccine. For the time being, all COVID-19 vaccines delivered to Denmark is distributed through the free vaccination programme. 
Updated 18 JAN 2021