In the United States, there are currently 2 types of vaccines available for COVID-19: mRNA and Viral Vector.
- mRNA vaccines use a piece of a protein (mRNA) to trigger an immune response inside the body
- This immune response produces antibodies, which in turn, attack a real virus containing the same protein when it enters the body
- mRNA vaccines DO NOT use the live virus that causes COVID-19
- mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not interact with or alter DNA (which is housed within the nucleus of a cell)
- Research on mRNA vaccines has been going on for decades. This kind of vaccine has been studied for flu, Zika, rabies, and CMV. mRNA COVID vaccines were developed based on this existing and lengthy research.
- Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are the current mRNA vaccines approved under EUA by the FDA for SARS-CoV-2.
Viral Vector Vaccine
- Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different virus (or the vector)
- This vector virus IS NOT SARS-CoV-2. It is a harmless virus that does not cause COVID-19
- Once the vector enters the body, it triggers a cell to produce the spike protein. This in turn triggers an immune response against this spike protein, creating antibodies that will attack a real virus containing the same protein when it enters the body
- The genetic material delivered by the viral vector does not integrate with a person's DNA
- Viral vectors have been studied and used in science and medicine since the 1970s
- Johnson & Johnson's Janssen is a viral vector vaccine currently approved under EAU by the FDA for SARS-CoV-2
Please visit the CDC's COVID-19 Vaccine page for more information on these types of vaccines.