Which COVID-19 Vaccine is the best? Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson

Vaccines that prevent the COVID-19 infection are our best hope for ending the pandemic. But with so much information online about the various vaccines, their benefits, possible side-effects, distribution, safety precautions and more, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Some of the questions we’ve been getting at Buckhead Medicine, in addition to the above, are what happens if one has an underlying condition? Is there anyone who shouldn’t get the vaccine? Should one get the vaccine if one is breastfeeding, if they’ve already had COVID-19 or if they have a history of allergic reactions?

Let’s break it down for you before moving on to the various types of COVID vaccines available in the USA today.

Why should you get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The most obvious reason is that it will prevent you from being exposed to the virus, passing it on to someone else, and possibly becoming seriously ill or dying due to the virus. Secondly, when more people are protected by the vaccine, it makes it harder for the virus to spread. When we prevent the virus from spreading, we essentially also prevent it from replicating, mutating and becoming potentially resistant to vaccines.

What are the various types of COVID-19 vaccines available?

While there are several vaccines undergoing trials at the moment, only 3 of them have been approved by the FDA for administering to patients. Here are the vaccines that have been approved:

Pfizer BioNTech COVID Vaccine – The Pfizer Vaccine is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 with symptoms. It can be administered to anyone aged 16 and older. The injections are given in 2 doses, 21 days apart.

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine – The Moderna Vaccine is similar to the Pfizer one in terms of efficacy. At 94% effective, it is given to people aged 18 and above in two doses, 28 days apart.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine – As per clinical trials, this vaccine was 72% effective in preventing COVID-19 as of 14 days after vaccination. Administered to those who are 18 years or older, it is given in one dose.

How are the vaccines different?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use the messenger RNA (mRNA). You’ve probably seen pictures of the Corona Virus with small spikes on the surface. This is called an S protein and the COVID-19 virus uses these spikes to enter human cells. The mRNA vaccine gives cells instructions to make harmless pieces of the S-protein. After vaccination, your cells start making this protein and displaying them on cell surfaces. In this way, your immune system recognizes that the S-protein doesn’t belong there and the body begins building an immune response by making antibodies.

On the other hand, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a vector vaccine. To create this vaccine, a harmless virus (also called a viral vector) was taken and a small part of its genetic structure was replaced with COVID-19 genes from the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. When this modified virus is injected into someone’s arm, it enters their cells and the immune system notices these foreign proteins that will protect the person if they are exposed to COVID-19 in the future.

Which Vaccine is the best?

It can be confusing to understand why public health officials advise us to take whatever vaccine your Primary Medical Centre is offering, when there are some vaccines that are said to be better than others. Naturally, people would want to take the best vaccine available. One issue with this is that the numbers that are focussed upon the most is ‘efficacy.’ What is more important is protection against hospitalization and death – something that all 3 vaccines do equally well. Currently, there is no data to confirm that vaccination will reduce the number of people who get mildly ill, are asymptomatic and thereby reduce transmission.

As we’ve explained above, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work the same way (mRNA messenger) while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine works differently (using DNA which is transported into the nucleus of cells with a different kind of virus and modified so it can’t replicate itself). All the vaccines are safe and help the body retain a memory of the COVID-virus in order to attack it.

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What services are provided as a part of my annual fee?
  • Same-day or next business day appointments
  • Direct access to Dr. Espinosa via his personal cell phone after hours, weekends, and holidays
  • Minimal office wait times
  • Longer, more comprehensive appointments
  • House Calls (requires additional trip fee)
  • A strong focus on preventive medicine, long-term health and wellness
  • A personal professional relationship with your physician
What is the mission of Buckhead Medicine?

We strive to provide the highest quality medical care, emphasizing a comprehensive approach to prevention and disease management. We want patients to be completely satisfied with every aspect of their care.

Where is your office and are you on the medical staff of a local hospital?

Yes, Dr. Espinosa’s office is in Buckhead, a suburb of Atlanta. He is on the medical staff of Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and Northside Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. If you require hospitalization, Dr. Espinosa will coordinate your patient care by working with the hospital based physicians. He will also make periodic hospital visits during your hospitalization.

Who will cover for you when you are not available?

On infrequent occasions when Dr. Espinosa is out of town or otherwise unavailable, he will have another qualified physician cover for him. Even while out of town, Dr. Espinosa will generally be available by phone to his patients and to his covering physicians. For practical reasons, we reserve the right to designate another qualified physician to perform any and all services should the need arise.

Do you accept insurance?

Commercial Insurance and Medicare:
Buckhead Medicine is an In-Network provider for Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO, Aetna, Coventry, Humana, Cigna, Tricare and United Healthcare. Our practice fully participates in the Medicare program. Buckhead Medicine accepts all other insurance as an Out-of-Network provider. We, however, do not participate in the Medicaid program. Regardless of your plan, we will bill your insurance for all covered services. It is our intention that no insurance-covered medical services are included in your annual fee.

HMO and Medicare HMO:
We do not participate in HMO programs. As such, HMO patients will not be able to join the practice until they transition to either a PPO or traditional Medicare plan.

Do I still need insurance if I enroll with you?

Yes. Personalized medical practices do not take the place of general health insurance coverage. Buckhead Medicine is a primary care medical practice, not a health insurance program. You are advised to continue your PPO, Medicare or other insurance program. If you are an uninsured individual and desire to enroll in the practice, we will provide you with a discounted fee schedule for office visits, tests and procedures.

What if I don't have health insurance?

For uninsured patients, Buckhead Medicine offers an uninsured patient plan. Although this plan is not insurance, it does cover for all clinic visits and any labs or tests that are performed in our office. In many cases this plan provides for significant cost savings to uninsured individuals. Please contact our office for additional details on this plan.

Will my insurance still be billed for my office visits?

Yes, we will bill your insurance company directly. The annual fee does not cover costs for regular exams or testing conducted inside or outside of the clinic. These costs are billed to your insurance provider in the same manner that traditional practices bill insurers.

Is there a co-payment?

If you have commercial insurance, we will collect the co-payment at the time of service. Medicare patients usually do not require a co-payment.

Do you bill Medicare for the annual fee?

No. The annual fee is not covered by Medicare. The fee only includes services that are not covered by Medicare and, as such, cannot be paid for or reimbursed by Medicare. We will bill Medicare for your sick visits and for any additional services performed at this practice that are covered by Medicare.

Will my commercial insurance reimburse my annual fee?

No, commercial insurance does not typically reimburse for the annual fee. However, some Flexible Spending Account and Health Savings Account plans may pay for all or part of the annual fee. In addition, some insurance plans allow the concierge fee to apply towards the annual deductible. Members are advised to consult their human resources representative at their place of employment.

Is the annual fee tax deductible?

In many cases the annual fee is a tax deductible healthcare expense. Patients are advised to consult with their tax consultant to clarify qualification in their particular circumstance.

Does the annual fee cover lab, x-ray, specialist fees and hospitalization?

Services such as labs, x-ray, specialty visits or hospitalizations are covered based on coverage determined by your insurance plan.

Are there age limits?

Dr. Espinosa is an Internal Medicine physician. His specialty is Adult medicine. Dr. Espinosa is trained to manage acute and chronic medical illnesses among adults. As such, the practice is limited to patients 17 years of age and older.

What if I have an emergency?

If you have a life threatening emergency, call 911 immediately. After you call 911, please call Dr. Espinosa. He will contact the hospital and notify the emergency room of your tentative arrival. In addition, Dr. Espinosa will provide the emergency room with pertinent medical history information

How far in advance do I need to book an appointment?

Dr. Espinosa is committed to providing his patients with easy access to care. All urgent visits will be accommodated either same day or next day, placing the greatest priority on the sickest patients. Annual physical exams will be booked 1 to 2 weeks in advance.

What do I do if I become ill while traveling or away on an extended vacation?

Call 911 if you have a life threatening emergency. Then call Dr. Espinosa. Call Dr. Espinosa first if the problem is minor. With the exception of a few controlled substances, most prescriptions can be ordered anywhere in the country. If necessary, it may be possible for Dr. Espinosa to find you a resource in your area. If you seek care at an emergency room or urgent care center out of our area, we request that you have the doctor seeing you call Dr. Espinosa for coordination. Dr. Espinosa will be readily available by phone for consultation with you and/or other health care personnel. If you should require hospitalization while away, at your request, Dr. Espinosa will establish phone communication with you and your attending physician(s) to ensure continuity of care.

Do you make house calls?

House calls will be available to Buckhead Medicine members, within a limited radius from the clinic. These will be done as deemed appropriate by Dr. Espinosa on a case-by-case basis. Home visits will be billed to your insurance provider similar to an office visit. A separate trip fee is required for house calls.

What if I need to see a specialist or a surgeon?

Of course, Buckhead Medicine patients are free to see any specialist they wish. We are available to help you decide what specialists to see and to coordinate such consultations. Patients may frequently request for “doctors in my area”, and we can accommodate this. We will ensure that the most appropriate resources are used, the earliest arrangements are made, and your applicable medical information is sent in advance of your specialist visit.

What about the cost of prescription medications?

The cost of prescription medications are the patient’s responsibility and in most cases should be covered by their insurance plans. We have expertise in assisting patients in purchasing medications in the most cost effective manner.

Will I be required to pay my annual fee even if I do not use your services?

Yes. Paying your annual fee allows you to be a member of the practice whether you are sick or well. We encourage our patients to utilize the amenities offered such as wellness consultations and emails for appropriate non-urgent health related questions, regardless of your state of health.

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