Pfizer to Comirnaty

Why a vaccine got a new name

When do vaccine name changes happen?

Before a vaccine (or any product) gets FDA approval, it’s known by the company that created it (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, etc.).

Is everything else the same?

For now, everything about the vaccine remains the same, including its ingredients and formulations. The only change is the name.

Will other vaccines change their names?

Yes — any vaccine that gets full FDA approval will also adopt a brand name. That means the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will get new names if the FDA approves them.

How are the names decided?

The behind-the-scenes process for selecting a name is actually pretty interesting! Pfizer decided on Comirnaty back in December 2020.

  • co = COVID-19 (which in turn stands for COronaVIrus Disease 2019, the year it was discovered).
  • mirna = mRNA, the snippets of genetic code that tell cells to build proteins. In this case, the proteins on the COVID-19 spike protein.
  • ty = a combination of community and immunity.

Can I still use the old name? Are the instances where the manufacturer name will still be used?

Short answer, yes! Though here’s where things can get a little confusing. Comirnaty is the official name for Pfizer’s FDA approved vaccine. That two-dose vaccine is approved for people ages 16 and older. It’s not yet fully approved for people ages 12–15; or people receiving a third dose or booster.

  • If you’re an 18-year-old getting your first and second dose — you’re getting what’s known as Comirnaty. Your 15-year-old sibling getting a shot at the same time will be getting the Pfizer vaccine.
  • You’re an immunocompromised individual who’s eligible for a third shot. You’re getting the Pfizer vaccine.
  • You’re an adult over the age of 65 who’s now eligible for a booster. You’re getting the Pfizer vaccine.

More information

This blog is accurate as of the date of posting. Information changes rapidly, so check the state’s COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date info at coronavirus.wa.gov. You can also sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

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