Vaccine 101​​

Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell – SOURCES >

What is a vaccine?

A vaccine is a type of medicine that trains the immune system to fight a disease [either virus or bacteria] that has not come in contact with before. Vaccines play an important role in keeping the body healthy and protects us from serious illness or even deadly diseases.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work? / What is mRNA?

All vaccines contain only one or more key features of a virus. For the COVID-19 vaccine, this feature is called the “spike protein.” This works using a technique known as messenger RNA or mRNA. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give your cells instructions to create a harmless replica of this protein. Your immune system recognizes that cells with this protein do not belong in the body. This stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies.

"mRNA vaccines don't contain any genetic material of COVID-19. They're like a Snapchat message containing a most wanted poster of the virus that gets sent to your body, gives it instructions for how to kill the virus, and then—poof!—disappears"

What are the symptoms?

COVID-19 symptoms vary based on the person and the type of vaccine received. Common side effects include pain and swelling on the arm where you got the shot. You may also experience fever, chills, tiredness, and headache throughout the rest of your body. Most symptoms occur within the first three days of vaccination and resolve one to three days later.

When do the vaccines take effect?

Two doses are needed for each of the COVID-19 vaccines [approved in the United States]: Moderna and Pfizer and protection begins about a week after the second dose. One dose is needed for J&J/Janssen and people had the most protection two weeks after getting vaccinated.

Can a vaccine be trusted since it came to the market so fast?

Yes! Each of the COVID-19 vaccines are held to the same safety and standards of all other types of vaccines in the United States. Only vaccines that meet these standards ( are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and made available for use. The clinical trials also ensured racial and ethnic diversity. The vaccines were developed rapidly because:
  • The federal government selected the most promising vaccine candidates
  • Many people volunteered for clinical test trials
  • Pfizer and Moderna received government support
  • Manufacturing started simultaneously with vaccine efficacy and safety demonstrations
  • COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness showed quickly because of high prevalence of the disease in all communities
Population (17+) Pfizer Moderna
Black  12.3% 9.8% 9.7%
Hispanic  17.7% 26.2% 20.0%
Asian  5.9% 4.4% 4.7%
Racial Diversity Within Covid-19 Vaccine Clinical Trials – LINK >