The biopharmaceutical industry mounted an impressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was the companies that previously invested in platform-based technologies, such as mRNA and viral vectors, that were successful in gaining Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and eventual approval most quickly. As a result, multiple safe and efficacious vaccines were authorized for emergency use, resulting in significant declines in severe disease and mortality, however, durable immunity to COVID-19 has not yet been achieved. While many biopharmaceutical companies have launched independent efforts to develop mRNA vaccines, it is important to reflect on efficacy and durability of legacy vaccines and what those platforms have to offer. Vaccine platforms offer speed of development and flexibility in manufacturing, however, not all antigens are amenable to a specific platform, and there are strategic trade-offs in developing a vaccine for rapid emergency use deployment vs. a long-term product for endemic prophylaxis. Here we will present case studies from live viral and subunit vaccine platforms, and how continued investment in these established platforms have enabled speed and innovation to support both EUA and long-term commercial manufacturing.