Is it common to have vaccines from multiple manufacturers?

This question isn’t specifically about the COVID vaccines, though it’s obviously inspired by them, so I’m putting it here rather than in the Quarantine Zone. Hopefully that’s the right place.

Currently there are vaccines for COVID from several different manufacturers, and people pay attention to which one they get. My Facebook feed is full of people saying things like “Just got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine” or “My mom just got her second Moderna shot.” I suppose that over the next few weeks I’ll start to see similar posts about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

This got me wondering about other vaccines. I’ve never thought about it before, but are vaccines commonly available from multiple different companies? When I get my flu shot every year, or kids get their MMR booster shot, or whatever, does the doctor have a choice between different “versions” of the vaccine to use? Or is the current situation with multiple vaccines something unusual, due to the urgency of getting the pandemic under control?

I’ve always thought about getting “the” flu shot, and never wondered before if there are actually several competing flu shots available. Not a terribly important question, I suppose, but just something that I’m curious about.

Vaccines are generally not very profitable, and developing one to compete with an already existing one rarely makes sense unless you have government funding. The known very high demand for vaccines against COVID and potentially developing a vaccine better than everyone else’s made this situation unusual.

Sometimes a particular vaccine is successfully branded because it’s better than the prior options. Shingrix for shingles would be a recent example. But it was never marketed with the manufacturer’s name prominent, I could not have told you who makes it without looking it up.

Seasonal influenza vaccines are available from several producers and in different formulations. In Ontario this year, there were 4 approved products: 3 quadravalent and 1 high dose trivalent aimed at seniors.

The producers were GSK, Sanofi (x2), and Sequaris.

Yes, very common to have multiple vaccines in human medicine. Veterinary medicine has multiple companies manufacturing vaccines for , let’s say…for canine Bordatella. Different drug companies provide slight differences in composition, routes of administration, etc. Some companies claim their product is better for the first time administration, whereas other companies claim their product has better immunity for the adult dogs. Practicing veterinarians do their own research on the products available and the science based approach each company is offering. I’m sure the same process is happening in human medicine.

Interesting. Thanks for the replies, everyone. As I said, I never thought about it before. But I guess it makes sense that, like any other medicine, there would be several different products to treat the same thing.

This raises an interesting question - I can’t, off the top of my head, think of another occasion where competing (I’m using the word loosely) similar or equivalent non-generic medicines are almost universally referred to by the developer/manufacturer. My guess is that this happened because the various development plans were being followed with obsessive interest long before anything had a name. So we were all talking about (for example) “the Pfizer vaccine” last October, and just carried on doing so. It’s called Comirnaty, BTW.

Sorry about that sidetrack - to return to the OP, sure, pharmaceuticals are ultimately articles of commerce - where there’s a market to support it, like flu, you’ll get competition. Had we all been obsessively following the development of flu vaccines…well, we’d be on first name terms with them, as well.


Wondering if there are any other COVID vaccines getting close to submission for approval. AIUI, there are over 100 of them in development worldwide. Even one in Nigeria. Any more close to the end of the pipeline?

As you might imagine, there’s a wiki for it:


Vaccines are a bit different because they’re colloquially referred to as “The ‘X’ Vaccine” rather than by the brand name(s), of which there can be many. The various brands of the Polio vaccine are Ipol, Kinrix, Pediacel, Pediarix, Pentacel, and Quadracel, for example. Those, and most drug names, mean absolutely nothing to anyone who’s not a doctor of pharmacist.

Same for Covid-19. Pfizer’s vaccine is tozinameran, with the brand name Comirnaty. Meaningless. It’s easier to just refer to the company because they’re at least somewhat familiar (and pronounceable) names. It seems that Moderna hasn’t bothered with any sort of international or trade name, just going with “Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.” Simple enough.

J&J is going to team up with their rival Merck to produce more vaccines. The white house helped make that deal. I think Merck covid vaccines failed in testing.

Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine is approved in Europe but not in the US yet.

Yeah - see link in post 9 - Merck is listed as “Terminated” - inferior immune response to natural infection and other vaccines.


Maybe it’s like calling a tissue a kleenex, a cell phone an iphone and petroleum jelly, Vaseline? Or it’s regional like some places will have more M than J&J vaccines so it’s informative for others? And perhaps, if people knew the brand of vaccine for influenza all along, they would’ve named the brand.

I guess in theory you could ask your Dr for a certain brand vaccine but I think that is probably very rare