How the different COVID-19 vaccines work

Over the past centuries, vaccines have played a significant role in the modernization of medicine. The latest creation is the vaccine protecting people from SARS-CoV-2. The first vaccine dose was administered in Dec. 2020. Since then, the United States has developed stages for determining how much of the population can be immunized. But, many people may not fully understand the different vaccines. 

The basic idea of any vaccine is to reduce the risk of contracting certain diseases by allowing your body to develop immunity. Vaccines contain a small part of a certain virus that is injected into the layer of skin below the dermis where immune cells are found. Once the cells recognize the unknown germ, the body begins to produce antibodies. Antibodies will remember the germ and how to fight it if it enters the body again. 

The three COVID-19 vaccines are a little different. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Modera vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, which means they don’t contain the actual live virus. 

Instead, they use mRNA, the technology that delivers genetic code to cells in order to make the surface protein of the virus. The proteins activate the immune system, teaching it to see the protein as a foreigner to develop antibodies. 

These vaccines require two doses. The first dose will start the process of building up protection in your body while the second dose will reinforce this protection. Both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses Pfizer about 21 days apart and Modera about 28 days apart. 

The vaccine created by Johnson & Johnson is different from mRNA-based vaccines as well. This vaccine is known as a viral vector, which uses a modified version of a different harmless virus to deliver important instructions to the cells. This technology would activate the immune system to recognize the virus to begin creating antibodies. Because of this process, the J&J vaccine requires only one dose.