Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available in the U.S, many families may have questions about the vaccine. Our care team has collected all of the questions we’ve heard over the last few weeks. We will be sharing weekly updates and inviting families to bring their questions to online chats with our care team.
This week we’re focusing on helping families understand how the COVID-19 vaccine works and why it is safe to get the shots. Be sure to read part three of our COVID-19 Vaccine Series: Who Should Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?
1. Question: Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Answer: Yes. Although mRNA vaccines are new, they have been studied for over ten years. These vaccines have been tested for safety before being approved for use in the United States.
2. Question: What is a vaccine, and how does it work in the body?
Answer: Most vaccines are made from dead viruses or made from a single protein, which is only a very small part of the virus. The vaccine trains our body to fight a specific illness by getting the immune system to create antibodies. The antibodies protect us from getting sick.
3. Question: What is special about the COVID-19 vaccine?
Answer: The COVID-19 vaccine works a little differently than your yearly flu shot. The COVID-19 vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus and there is NO risk of a vaccinated person getting COVID-19 from the shot. Currently there are two approved mRNA vaccines in the U.S- Pfizer and Moderna.
4. Question: How does an mRNA vaccine work?
Answer: mRNA vaccines work in five steps.
- A person gets an mRNA vaccine shot.
- The mRNA teaches our body to make a harmless protein piece. The protein piece is called a spike protein.
- Our body destroys the mRNA after making the spike protein.
- Our body responds to the spike protein by making antibodies.
- These antibodies protect us from getting sick if the real virus ever enters our bodies.
5. Question: Can an mRNA vaccine change my DNA?
Answer: No. Every person has thousands of mRNA in their body that expire over and over all day long. The body breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions. Because mRNA are only temporary, they never interact with your DNA.
6. Question: What are the benefits of mRNA vaccines?
Answer: Some of the benefits of mRNA vaccines are:
- They do not use the virus in the vaccine
- They can be made in a lab
- They do not take as long to make
7. Question: Are there any side effects from the vaccine?
Answer: Some people have had minor side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This may be pain, redness, or swelling in your arm from the shot.
People may also experience body or muscle aches, fevers, chills, fatigue. It appears to be more common after the second dose of the vaccine. All of these symptoms are temporary. You may be uncomfortable for a short time (a few hours to a few days).
These symptoms do not mean that you have COVID-19. These are signs that your body is responding to the vaccine because your immune system is building its defenses. They are not signs that you are sick.
Getting the vaccine reduces your risk of becoming very sick, or dying from COVID-19. The vaccine may also decrease the chance you could pass the virus on to someone else. By getting vaccinated, you can also help protect people around you. If you have questions about getting the vaccine for your family, ask your doctor.
The information in this blog is considered true and correct at the date of publication. Changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information.