What is an mRNA vaccine and how does it work

The first two COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) and Moderna vaccine—are both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more about what they are and why they’re safe from infectious disease specialist and vaccine expert Pat Winokur, MD, in our newest Vaxx Facts video.

From the video

What is a messenger RNA vaccine?

The messenger RNA vaccines give the cell in your arm a blueprint for creating that spike protein.

Once it's made in the cell, it's exposed to the immune system and you create antibodies and other cells that protect you.

Is a messenger RNA vaccine safe?

The messenger RNA cannot integrate into your DNA or your human genes. The messenger RNA is broken down very quickly once it's exposed in the body.

Can you get coronavirus or COVID-19 from these vaccines?

And the answer is no.

There is no live virus in these vaccines. They're all just pieces that your immune system is seeing.

Last reviewed: 
August 2021

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