How does the vaccine work?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA vaccines, also known as mRNA vaccines. These are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases, but they have been known and researched for decades. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein from the virus—or even just a piece of that protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies later.

The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine is similar to mRNA vaccines. They all use a piece of the virus’ genetic code for a piece of the virus’ outer shell. After getting vaccinated, the muscle cells make that piece of the virus, then our immune systems react to that and remember it for the future if we get exposed, killing the invading virus and stopping the infection. With the Janssen vaccine, however, that piece of the virus’ genetic code is inserted into an adenovirus (think common cold) that has been modified so that it cannot replicate and cannot make you sick. Our cells open up the adenovirus, make the piece of the virus’ outer shell, and the process continues as described above. The benefit of this adenovirus vector is that it permits for easier storage and handling of the vaccine because it does not have to be stored frozen like the mRNA vaccines.

Show All Answers

1. How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
2. Is the vaccine safe?
3. What are the side effects from the vaccine?
4. What adverse reactions were reported for the vaccine?
5. Will the vaccine give me COVID?
6. How many doses do I need?
7. Who will get the vaccine first?
8. How were the phases decided? Can I get vaccinated sooner?
9. How do I know if a message or email offering vaccination options is legitimate?
10. When will I get vaccinated?
11. Who should get the vaccine?
12. If I had COVID, should I still get vaccinated?
13. Do I get to choose which vaccine I get?
14. Once I get the vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask?
15. How soon can we get back to pre-pandemic activities?
16. How does the vaccine work?
17. Does the vaccine change my DNA or implant a chip?
18. What is in the vaccine?