Update on the COVID-19 Vaccine


Marco Verch

COVID-19 vaccines are administered at pharmacies and healthcare facilities nationwide.

Nicole Stone, Reporter

      Individuals all over the world have mixed feelings about the COVID-19 vaccine. Many are scared to get the vaccine, while others feel absolutely certain about it. On a daily basis, there are more and more people getting their vaccine. As of August 23, 2021, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ages 16 and up. Being approved means that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 16 and older is no longer in emergency use authorization. This shows that the FDA is confident in the vaccine and its safety. In order for the FDA to approve a vaccine, they test the vaccine’s effectiveness, safety, and quality. 

      Currently, there are over 171 million individuals that are fully vaccinated in the United States, which is over 52% of the entire US population. There have been 24.2 million doses given specifically in Florida. The COVID-19 vaccine has been in emergency use authorization since December of 2020 for a specific age group. 

Age                                                    At least one dose


<18                                                                    17.5%

18-24                                                               57.9%

25-39                                                              61.5%

40-49                                                             70.9%

50-64                                                             79.4%

65-74                                                             93.6%

75+                                                                88.6%


This data table shows how many US individuals have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by age group. 

      The COVID-19 cases have been continuously growing in Florida. Different schools have different requirements, making it tough for school COVID cases to slow down. Many of these growing cases are coming from the new COVID-19 Delta variant. Studies have shown that the Delta variant is more contagious and causes individuals to get sicker. Vaccines are now given in various places, such as: Publix, Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart; as well as hospitals, doctor offices, and county run vaccination sites. All of these vaccines have been very well tolerated by individuals with the most common side effects being a sore arm where the injection was given, fever, headache, and fatigue. In order to try to cut down on side effects from the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and various doctors recommend drinking plenty of water and refraining from taking any pain relievers such as Tylenol or Motrin before getting your vaccine. However, it is fine to take these products after getting your vaccine. 

      As of now, there are three COVID-19 vaccines available for individuals to get. The three brand manufacturers are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J). Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use the mRNA technology which educates your body’s cells on how to make a protein that helps your immune system fight off the virus. The J&J vaccine uses the viral vector technology which utilizes an altered version of a different virus; in this case the vaccine uses an altered version of the adenovirus which is a common cold virus, to tell your cells the instructions about how to combat the virus. Although all three of these vaccines use newer vaccine technologies, according to the CDC, none of these vaccines can give you the COVID-19 virus or alter your DNA in any way. Since these vaccines are all made with different strengths, they are all dosed differently and on different schedules. The schedule for each of these vaccines are as follows: 


Pfizer is eligible for ages 12 and older. There are two shots given for this vaccine 21 days apart. Individuals are fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second shot.  


Moderna is eligible for ages 18 and older. There are two shots given for this vaccine 28 days apart. Individuals are fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second shot.  

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson is eligible for ages 18 and older. There is one shot given for this vaccine. Individuals are fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their shot. 

      The CDC states that the efficacy of all three of these vaccines against preventing serious illness and hospitalization is excellent and varies for each vaccine. According to Infectious Disease doctors, Michael Virata, Lydia Aoun-Barakat, and Miricar Malinis, from the prestigious Yale University School of Medicine, the Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be about 95% efficacious after full vaccination, and about 84% effective after about 6 months. Like the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine showed to be about 95% effective two weeks after getting the second dose, and about 90% effective after 6 months. The J&J vaccine has shown about a 72% rate of efficacy upon completion of it’s one dose regimen. Since the J&J vaccine was approved for Emergency Authorization Use in the United States less than 6 months ago, there is not yet data to show 6 months of efficacy just yet. Although these vaccines have been very efficacious in fighting serious illness, there have been variants (mutations) of COVID-19, specifically, the Delta variant -which was first seen in India and is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States- that have been challenging the efficacy of these vaccines. In fact, the United States has been seeing an increase in breakthrough infections of COVID-19 in vaccinated individuals. As a result of these breakthrough infections and the fact that the efficacy of these vaccines seems to decrease with time, the FDA recently approved a third booster shot of the mRNA vaccines which can be given immediately to individuals who have compromised immune systems. The FDA also approved a third shot for all individuals ages 16 and up who have received the two shot mRNA vaccines.This third booster shot should be given 8 months after an individual received their second shot. The rollout of the booster shots for the general public will begin on September 20, 2021. 

      Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC is highly recommending that all individuals ages 12 and up receive the COVID-19 vaccine whether they have been previously infected with COVID-19 or not. This is because new mutations can develop as long as there are individuals that can be infected with the virus which would continue to prolong the pandemic. Although the CDC has strong recommendations regarding COVID-19 vaccination, the choice to get any type of vaccination is always an individual decision. It is very important that each individual do their own research about the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as speak to their doctor or pharmacist with any questions about the vaccines so that they can make the correct decision for themselves and their family about vaccination. Whether individuals choose to get vaccinated or not, hopefully someday soon, we will be able to put this pandemic behind us once and for all!