New Year New Vaccine

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Riley Slikker , Journalist

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Since the initial outbreaks of COVID-19, there has been a push to create a vaccine for the virus. Scientists have recently released a vaccine as part of a clinical trial. The vaccine seemed rushed and some have questions like, “How does it work?” or “Is it safe?”

To understand how the vaccine works we have to understand how our bodies fight off illnesses. When germs infect our bodies they attack and multiply causing an illness. Our immune system uses red blood cells that carry oxygen to tissues and organs, and our different types of white blood cells to fight infections. The first time somebody is infected by a disease it takes a few days before their body makes and uses the tools it needs to fight the infection. After the infection, the immune system remembers how to protect the body next time.

There are multiple types of COVID-19 vaccines that all work in different ways, but with each vaccine, the body is left with the white blood cells that remember how to fight the virus in the future.

One COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine that contains materials that cause the Coronavirus that gives our cells information to create copies of proteins that are unique to the virus. Then, our immune system recognizes that the proteins don’t belong in the body and begin making white blood cells that will remember how to fight the virus if we are ever infected.

Another vaccine is a Vector vaccine that contains a weakened version of a live virus that has genetic material that causes COVID-19 called a viral vector. Once the viral vector is injected, the genetic material gives us instructions to make copies of a protein that’s unique to the virus. Just like the mRNA vaccine, our bodies than create white blood cells that will remember how to fight the virus in the future.

The bottom line is getting the vaccine is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others. Stopping a pandemic requires every tool possible and the vaccine is just one of those effective tools.