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Vaccine Fear: How Does the COVID-19 Vaccine Work?

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Editor’s Note: The following is the third in a series of stories that address common concerns that may contribute to the hesitation of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Misconceptions such as thinking that the COVID-19 vaccine can modify DNA or infect coronaviruses can encourage vaccine hesitation, but vaccines to dispel these myths. It can help you understand how it works.

Vaccines teach the immune system to fight the disease by making antibodies. The same process occurs during natural infections, but vaccines are good at protecting patients from the disease without risking it and preventing it from spreading to others. I have.

The three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States behave differently than many other well-known vaccines. This is because researchers have been researching and developing these new methods for decades to create vaccines that are easy to scale up and reproduce. Trendy.

Vaccine hesitage groups have used the novelty of these technologies as a way to disseminate false information and disseminate fear to the public.

This week, Times Free Press is addressing some of the common questions about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. “How will the COVID-19 vaccine be safe if development is urgent?” And “What is included in the COVID-19 vaccine?” In this article, we will consider the following:

Question: How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

Answer: The COVID-19 vaccine trains the body to recognize characteristic proteins on the surface of coronavirus that resemble “spike” or crown.

Dr. John Mascola, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Vaccine Research Center, said in a webcast of the National Institute of Science and Technology that many well-known vaccines such as influenza and hepatitis B are protein-based. .. A vaccine that “makes a subunit or part of a virus completely safe and harmless and free of live viral parts.”

“The protein is injected into the muscles and can teach the immune system to recognize that form of protein. The immune system causes antibodies and other reactions that help protect a person.” Mr. Mascola said.

Novavax, a Maryland-based biotechnology company, is testing a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine and announced this week that the two vaccines are about 90% effective, with preliminary data showing that it’s safe. I showed that. For those who might like that type of shot, Associated Press reported Novavax plans to seek vaccination approval in the United States by the end of September.

But for now, the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States (Pfizer, Modana, Johnson & Johnson) contain genetic instructions for the body to make its own peplomera. ..

Both the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine are messenger RNA or mRNA vaccines. That is, their active ingredients are single-strand RNA molecules that contain instructions for cells to make harmless peplomer proteins that resemble the proteins on the surface of coronavirus.

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is a “viral vector” vaccine. In the case of this vaccine, the cold-causing virus family, adenovirus, is harmless and has been modified to act as a “vector” for the adenovirus to transport the genetic information of the peplomer.

“The body makes the protein, not the protein itself, but the result is the same. The immune system makes antibodies, which can block the virus,” Mascola said.

Other types of vaccines that exist include inactivated or attenuated live virus and DNA vaccines, but the COVID-19 vaccine does not use these methods in the United States.

In the case of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, when a shot is given to the upper arm, mRNA is transported to immune cells to produce peplomer.

“After a piece of protein is made, the cell breaks down the instructions. [mRNA] And get rid of them. ” US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.. “The cell then displays a piece of protein on its surface. Our immune system recognizes that the protein does not belong to it, builds an immune response, and begins to make antibodies.”

The mRNA vaccine delivers the genetic material to our cells, but the CDC states that “the substance never enters the cell’s nucleus” — where our DNA is stored.

“This means that the genetic material in the vaccine cannot affect or interact with our DNA,” said the CDC.

In the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a harmless adenovirus, the “vector,” enters the cell and uses that “machine” to produce speplomer.

“The cell displays a spike protein on its surface, and the immune system recognizes that it does not belong to it, which causes the immune system to start producing antibodies and activate other immune cells, You will be fighting what appears to be an infection, “said the CDC state. “The genetic material delivered by the viral vector does not integrate into human DNA.”

Vaccines approved for use in the United States do not contain live viruses, so no one can infect anyone with COVID-19 or cause “vaccine excretion”.

According to the CDC, “vaccine excretion is a term used to describe the release or release of vaccine components inside or outside the body.” “Vaccine shedding can only occur if the vaccine contains an attenuated version of the virus.”

Contact Elizabeth Fite ([email protected]) or follow her on Twitter @ ecfite.

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