What it feels like to get an mRNA coronavirus vaccine

(CNN)As the United States inches closer to authorizing a Covid-19 vaccine many people may now let themselves start wondering what it will feel like to get it.

Is it going to be like the flu vaccine? Will it be more painful? And what about side-effects?

The two front-runners for getting an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration — Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna — use new mRNA technology. No US-licensed vaccine has ever used it, although researchers have been studying it for decades, against infections like flu, rabies and Zika, and even for some types of cancer.

The way these mRNA vaccines work is that they give our body the instructions, in the form of messenger RNA, for making a little piece of this particular coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) — specifically the spike protein. When our body gets these instructions, it starts producing the spike protein. That in turn triggers our immune system, which recognizes the spike protein as “foreign,” to make antibodies against it. So when we get infected with the real virus, our body is already prepared to fight it.


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