By: Meher Khan ’23
The Types of Vaccines
The vaccines listed below are ones that will be monitored in an upcoming clinical trial. It is important to understand how these vaccines work in terms of biological mechanisms and it is critical to recognize that none of these vaccines will give you COVID-19.
- mRNA vaccines – contains genetic material that creates COVID-19 specific proteins. The genetic material, mRNA (messenger RNA) will synthesize into protein, but our cells destroy the mRNA after the synthesis of these proteins. After, the body recognizes the foreign protein and then builds T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes (lymphocytes are defensive white blood cells) so that in the future, if the virus enters the body again, the immune system knows how to respond and prevent the spread of the virus.
- Protein Subunit vaccines – consists of harmless proteins that will cause the immune system to react to a virus without the germ (a germ is a pathogenic microorganism). Since the vaccine does not contain the germ, the vaccine will give you immunity without you getting sick. Once vaccinated, our immune system has the proper information to build antibodies and T-lymphocytes. In the case that a person gets infected and is vaccinated, their body will be able to recognize the virus and combat it.
- Vector vaccines – contains a live weakened virus but not the genetic material that causes you to get sick. The vaccine contains genetic material that encodes for viral antigens and these proteins cause an immune response. This immune response is caused by memory cells when they recognize the virus and these cells initiate an immunological response.
The Distribution of the Vaccine and the Availability
Once a vaccine is available and approved there will be a limited supply of the vaccine. Healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents will be prioritized in terms of vaccination.
Benefits of Getting Vaccinated
- Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and the people around you from getting COVID-19.
- The vaccine will counteract the long-term effects of COVID-19 and lessen its effect on the host.
- Getting vaccinated will reduce the strain on hospitals and ICUs. If fewer people are having severe cases the number of COVID-related hospitalizations will decrease.
Safety Precautions before and after Vaccination
- After receiving two doses of the vaccine, it is still recommended to wear masks and maintain proper social distancing.
- Receiving a vaccine will help your immune system’s response to the virus if you are exposed, but masks and social distancing reduces the chance of getting exposed.