Do you have any questions about Covid-19 vaccination? Here you can find out why you should be vaccinated, how the vaccination works, how long the vaccination protection lasts, which side effects can occur in rare cases and which vaccines are already in use.
A vaccination against Covid-19 will help protect you and contain the pandemic. The virus is very contagious. Some of those infected suffer from a severe course of the disease. People aged 65 and over, pregnant women and adults with previous illnesses are particularly at risk. In addition to the rules of conduct and hygiene, vaccination is the most effective means to date to reduce the number of serious illnesses and deaths in Switzerland. Only when around ninety per cent of the population are immune will the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 be reduced to such an extent that this pandemic will pass.
Vaccination is not compulsory in Switzerland. However, we recommend getting vaccinated. Vaccination offers good individual protection and helps contain the pandemic.
The authorities in your canton can tell you when and where you can get vaccinated.
(daily 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.)
The Covid-19 vaccination is free of charge for you.
You are deemed to be fully vaccinated in the following cases:
1. You have received two doses of the following vaccines:
- Comirnaty® from Pfizer/BioNTech
- Spikevax® from Moderna
- Vaxzevria® from AstraZeneca and other licensed products
- SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine from Sinopharm
- CoronaVac from Sinovac
2. You have received one dose of the Janssen vaccine from Johnson & Johnson
3. You have had a confirmed coronavirus infection and have received one dose of a vaccine specified in point 1 at an interval of at least 4 weeks (regardless of the order).
4. You have received a combination of the following vaccines:
- Comirnaty® from Pfizer/BioNTech and Spikevax® from Moderna
- Vaxzevria® from AstraZeneca and Comirnaty® from Pfizer/BioNTech
- Vaxzevria® from AstraZeneca and Spikevax® from Moderna
Note: No time needs to elapse after the last scheduled dose of vaccine before you are deemed to be fully vaccinated – even though, from a medical point of view, the expected immune protection develops after around 1 to 2 weeks. With the exception of the Janssen viral vector vaccine. With Janssen you are fully vaccinated 22 days after the injection.
The following people should not be vaccinated with the approved Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines: People with a severe confirmed allergy to any component of the vaccine (especially PEG in the mRNA vaccines).
If you are not allowed to receive mRNA vaccines for medical reasons, you can at best be vaccinated with the Janssen vector vaccine in consultation with your doctor. There are very few situations in which Covid 19 vaccination is not possible. In these cases, a doctor can issue a certificate confirming that (full) vaccination is not possible for medical reasons.
Vaccination with the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna is recommended for all pregnant women after the 1st trimester (from 12 weeks of pregnancy) according to the adjusted vaccination recommendation of the EKIF of 14.09.2021. In principle, however, it is also possible earlier in the pregnancy. The recommended vaccination schedule with mRNA vaccines does not differ from that of the normal population. The Janssen vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is not recommended for pregnant women.
Every vaccine needs approval and a recommendation in Switzerland. To do this, it must meet high standards for safety, effectiveness and quality. The Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, Swissmedic, carefully examined and approved the vaccine against Covid-19. It is safe and it works. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccine in medical studies. It is also safe and effective for the elderly and those with chronic diseases. Swissmedic continues to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. In general: The risk of serious side effects after vaccination is much smaller than the risk of serious disease progression after infection with the coronavirus.
Your body builds up protection against Covid-19. The vaccination strengthens your defences and helps your body fight the virus. The vaccination significantly reduces the risk of Covid-19. However, there is no complete protection. Some people can get Covid-19 despite the vaccination. With the vaccination, however, there is a higher chance that they will not get seriously ill.
Protection begins about two weeks after the first dose and is complete one week after the second dose – or 14 days after the first vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as this is administered in a single dose.
Current data show that protection from getting the disease lasts for at least 12 months. It may be that after a certain period of time another vaccination has to be given.
A distinction must be made here between harmless, temporary vaccination reactions and real serious side effects. Vaccine reactions are common and go away within a few days. Possible vaccine reactions are pain at the area of injection, tiredness, headache or body aches or high temperature. They show that the body is building up the vaccine protection and are therefore a good sign in mild form. Very rarely are there serious side effects such as a severe allergic reaction right after vaccination. An allergic reaction may cause swelling, redness, itching, or difficulty breathing. If you experience such symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
The side effects usually go away after a few days. If after a week you still have any side effects or they get worse, speak with your doctor.
Generally, side effects can be expected in the first six months after vaccination. However, most side effects occur shortly after vaccination. They are usually mild and of short duration. Similar to other vaccinations, these are mostly reactions at the injection site (especially pain or also redness, swelling) or general symptoms (e.g. tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain, fever). Contact your doctor if side effects last longer, get worse or if your well-being changes in the weeks after the vaccination.
So far, the federal government has signed contracts with the vaccine manufacturers Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax and Curevac. The Comirnaty® vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech received approval from Swissmedic on 19 December 2020. Moderna's vaccine (COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Moderna) was approved by Swissmedic on 12 January 2021. The Covid-19 vaccine “COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen” from Johnson & Johnson was approved on 22 March 2021.
The vaccines "Comirnaty" (from Pfizer) and "Spikevax" (from Moderna; both mRNA vaccines) are currently being vaccinated in the vaccination centres, as well as the vector vaccine Janssen from Johnson & Johnson. In addition to Pfizer/BioNTech's Comirnaty vaccine, Moderna's Spikevax vaccine is also licensed by Swissmedic for adolescents aged 12 and over. Only one dose of Janssen needs to be administered. It is not recommended for people with immunodeficiency and pregnant women. Vaccination protection is given three weeks after vaccination. Accordingly, the certificate is valid on the 22nd day after vaccination. Note: The mRNA vaccines offer the higher vaccination protection.
There is no choice between the two mRNA vaccines in use in Switzerland (Comirnaty® from Pfizer AG and COVID-19 Vaccine Spikevax® from Moderna). Persons 18 years of age and older can choose the vector vaccine COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen from Janssen-Cilag AG (Johnson&Johnson) from 18 October 2021. Note: The mRNA vaccines offer the higher vaccination protection.
Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna's mRNA vaccine contains genetic information of the novel coronavirus. From this tiny piece of blueprint, the body creates a small part of the virus - the so-called spike protein. The immune system recognises this as foreign and forms antibodies against it. The immune response has started. Both the mRNA blueprint and the spikes are broken down within days. This active immunisation prevents the SARS-CoV-2 viruses from penetrating human cells and multiplying.
This video from Swissmedic explains how the mRNA vaccine works.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is based on an adenovirus (harmless human cold virus), which contains the blueprint for the spike proteins of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and introduces it into the body. This blueprint enables the body’s own cells to produce the protein that is unique to the COVID-19 virus. The human immune system recognises that this protein is foreign and reacts by establishing natural defences against a COVID-19 infection. The adenovirus in the vaccine cannot multiply and does not cause illness.
The video from Swissmedic explains how the viral vector vaccine works.
Both preparations are highly effective. The vaccine developed by Pfizer / BioNTech offers around 95 percent protection against Covid-19. At Moderna, an overall effectiveness of 94.1 percent is stated.
While Comirnaty® gives 30 micrograms of vaccine per injection, Moderna's mRNA-1273 has 100 micrograms. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for anyone aged 12 and over. The Moderna vaccine differs from this with its suitability for all people aged 18 and over. The two vaccines contain different additives.
Otherwise, the two vaccines are similar. Both vaccines are mRNA vaccines and are well tolerated. Both Pfizer / BioNtech's Comirnaty® and the Moderna preparation require two doses for the vaccine to develop its full effect. These should be administered about four weeks apart. The second vaccination must be given with the same vaccine as the first.
The “COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen” from Johnson & Johnson is a viral vector vaccine and is administered just once (single dose). The data shows an efficacy of between 64.2% (age group 18 to 64) and 82.4% (aged 65 and over) in all investigated age groups 14 days after the vaccine. The vaccine can be stored frozen at -25°C to -15°C and transported chilled or thawed at 2°C to 8°C. Once removed from the freezer, the unopened vaccine can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 3 months.
The mRNA vaccine is not transported into the cell nucleus and cannot affect the human genome. The vaccine contains mRNA, which codes for the formation of a specific protein that forms the spike-like projections (spikes) on the SARS-CoV-2 virus wall. This protein serves as an antigen, is recognised by the body as foreign and thus stimulates the body's own immune system to react against the spikes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Antibodies are formed which are responsible for protecting against the virus.
(daily 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.)