The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is one of three vaccines that have been approved for use in the U.S., along with those developed by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. (Photo by Justin Hsieh)
Fountain Valley High School

A breakdown of the different COVID-19 vaccines

As millions of COVID-19 vaccine shots are administered across the nation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the United States gets closer to stopping the pandemic. There are currently three vaccines available: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The vaccine itself was administered in tiers in which specific age groups and specific occupations were eligible for the vaccine in order of urgency and importance. In Phase 1a, healthcare personnels and long term healthcare providers, such as doctors, nurses and EMS workers, were eligible for the vaccine. CDC established this phase back in Dec. 3, 2020.

Following Phase 1a, was Phase 1b in which those 75 years and older as well as frontline essential workers such as teachers, firefighters, police officers and grocery store workers were provided the opportunity to get the vaccine.

Then came Phase 1c in which 16 years and older with underlying medical conditions as well as other essential workers were approved for the vaccine.

April 1, 2021, teenagers of the age of 16 and older have now been cleared to receive the vaccine. Visit to book your appointment today. For more information about vaccine efforts visit: What the COVID-19 vaccination effort looks like in Orange County on Baron News.

“The most recent tier is open to those 16+ with certain health conditions. If you are 16+ and working in food service or another area already included in previous tiers, you qualify too! Pfizer has been cleared from the beginning for ages 16 and up. You just need to pick a site that is giving out Pfizer and have a parent/guardian with you for consent,” Fountain Valley High School Nurse Marci McLean-Crawford said.

Many are torn between the different vaccines they should take. Is one more effective than the others? Which one has more side effects? Which vaccine is easier to get?

“All three vaccines have very favorable safety profiles, meaning that they are all very safe, when tested in tens of thousands of people. All three are virtually 100% in clinical trials at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, which is the endpoint that we really care about,” Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen said to CNN.

The Pfizer vaccine is administered in two shots, 21 days apart and is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19. This shot is administered in the upper arm. Some common side effects included tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea.

“I received the Pfizer vaccine at Walgreens. I felt excited and hopeful before receiving the vaccine. I am proud to say that I consistently get vaccinated. I also have many cousins who work in the medical field, so I’ve grown up with a deeper understanding of health sciences,” junior Katie Vo said.

“In my personal experience, my arm was a bit sore the day after receiving the shot, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I have experienced worse symptoms from other shots, so the soreness felt standard,” Vo said.

The Moderna vaccine is also administered in two shots that are 28 days apart and is 94.1% effective at preventing the COVID-19 illness . It is recommended for people 18 years and older. Moderna has common side effects, such as nausea, tiredness, swelling, chills and fever, which were all common after the second dose.

“I got Moderna in January and February. I did not have the ability to choose, I showed up and it was what they offered, take it or leave it. After the [first] dose, I just had a tender arm nothing else. After dose [two], I had some chills, body aches and fatigue,” Nurse Marci said.

Unlike the other vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered in only one shot on the upper arm. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Feb. 24 and is recommended for people 18 years and older. This vaccine also has similar side effects although, they are more common for those between ages 18 to 60. The Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is 66.3% effective at preventing the virus.

However, as of April 13, 2021, the administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been put on hold by the CDC and FDA there have been six reported cases of blood clot with symptoms occurring six to 13 days after vaccination. Symptoms include severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath.

“100% I would recommend anyone to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity to. When we all get vaccinated, we can move away from reliance on herd immunity, and move forward with the hope that ‘things return to normal’ and that sense of familiarity is restored within our lives,” Vo said.

For more information on vaccines, their effectiveness and their side effects visit