What You Need to Know About Messenger RNA Vaccines

  • Date: October 22, 2021

What You Need to Know About Messenger RNA Vaccines

Messenger RNA vaccines—also called mRNA—are a newer type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. Most people first heard about this vaccine type when the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was developed and released. This was among one of the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. It requires people to receive two shots, 28 days a part.

While this might be a new type of vaccine you have heard of, researchers have studied mRNA vaccines before for the flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Other mRNA Vaccines on the horizon

Moderna is also reported to be pioneering other mRNA vaccines and therapeutics based on the company’s experience with its COVID-19 vaccine. The development and expansion of these other mRNA vaccines will be for the seasonal flu, HIV, and the Nipah virus. 

Another vaccine program in the works for Moderna is for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an infection that affects both young children and older adults. The Food and Drug Administration has just granted a fast track for mRNA-1345, which could possibly be a single-dose vaccine for RSV.

mRNA Vaccines: What You Need to Know

Learning about this new type of vaccine is paramount in understanding how it works in our bodies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared some helpful quick facts about mRNA vaccines below. 

  • mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases.
  • mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies.
  • The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable. If you received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you should get the same product for your second shot.

How do mRNA Vaccines Work?

mRNA is the blueprint for making proteins in our bodies, and we can use it as an immune system alarm clock because mRNA tells cells how to make specific protein molecules that could be harmful if they came from bacteria or viruses like the flu virus. 

To trigger this response, many mRNA vaccines put only pieces (or oligonucleotides) of the deactivated germ into our bodies instead of putting whole germs in there; these fragments don't cause illness but do wake up your immune system so you're ready when real invaders come around.

mRNAs help to create proteins that fight off infection by sending messages inside of cells directly. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine

Check out this graphic below from the CDC to learn even more about how the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine works in the body. 

If you have any questions about the COVID-19 vaccine or other vaccines for your residents or staff, please reach out to our team at Hudson Regional LTC Pharmacy at 845-341-2714 and we will be happy to assist you. 




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