The Science Behind the COVID-19 vaccine


Christian Emmer

This is a health care professional giving the COVID-19 vaccine.

After many months of doctors trying to make a vaccine for COVID-19, the first COVID-19 vaccine was given on December 14, 2020, to Sandra Lindsay who was a nurse at a hospital in Long Island. This was a big deal since doctors and scientists have been working on this for months. 

People were assigned a group in which they are going to get the vaccine in based on how exposed they are to COVID. For example, doctors and nurses are getting the vaccine before people who work an office job.  The first group has healthcare workers and people over the age of 75. The second group is people 65-74 and frontline essential workers for example teachers and grocery store workers. The final group is everyone else who has not received the vaccine yet. Right now the first group of people are getting the vaccine. 

Currently, in the USA there are two vaccines available, the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine. Right now the Moderna vaccine is being given to more rural areas and the Pfizer vaccine is being transported to cities and more urban areas. These vaccines are very alike but the main difference is that the Moderna vaccine must be stored at -4 degrees Fahrenheit and the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is classified as an mRNA vaccine which is a newer type of vaccine. 

The CDC (Center for disease control and prevention) states “mRNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus”. 

This type of vaccine is new but has been studied for decades, these types of vaccines have gained interest in the past few years. The mRNA also makes it so scientists and doctors can make the making of vaccines faster than the traditional way. (CDC)

The CDC states “COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the immune cells, the cells use them to make the protein piece. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them”.

The mRNA are inside a person’s cells and then form a protein piece and once that is made the cell breaks it down. That is what happens inside your body when you get the COVID vaccine. 

Just because the COVID vaccine exists doesn’t mean that it’s any less important to wear a mask and practice social distancing. On December 12, 2020, president-elect Joe Biden stated on his Twitter account “Wear a mask. It’s the easiest thing you can do to reduce COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths. It’s not a political statement– it’s a patriotic act”.