Covid vaccines 101

Are you thinking about getting vaccinated with Covid? There are currently three covid vaccines in use in the United States. The Covid vaccines are made by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson. Understanding how these vaccines are made and how they are tested can help you decide if a Covid vaccine is right for you.


Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid vaccines used mRNA technology to make the vaccines. MRNA technology has been studied for over 20 years. The first successful study of mRNA technology, performed on mice, was published in Nature in 1990.

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mRNA is a genetic scaffold created from modified RNA. Scientists can code or program mRNA to deliver information to the body’s cells to develop immunity. mRNA vaccines do not use the target virus as part of the vaccine, so there is no risk of Covid by getting the mRNA vaccines. Instead, mRNA vaccines instruct your cells to generate, recognize, and build immunity to a protein specific for the Covid virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Covid has a specific protein on its surface known as a spike protein. Covid mRNA vaccines teach your cells to recognize this protein and make antibodies so you already know are immune when exposed to the virus.

Viral vector technology

The Johnson and Johnson Covid vaccine uses viral vector technology. Viral vector technology uses an inactivated, harmless virus to carry information to your body cells and create immunity to a harmful virus. The inactivated virus is a transport platform known as a vector , for information about another virus.

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Johnson and Johnson previously developed a proprietary viral vector called AdVac. Researchers programmed this viral vector platform with information about the Covid virus spike protein to help your cells recognize and build immunity to the Covid virus. How mRNA vaccines use vector viral vaccines do not target the virus to manufacture the vaccine.

Tests and admission

Before any of the Covid vaccines were allowed to be used on the general population of the United States, they underwent large-scale clinical trials to determine their safety and effectiveness.

Clinical trials use two groups of volunteers; one group receives the vaccine and another, known as the placebo group, does not. The researchers then compare the data from both groups to see if the vaccine group had any side effects to the vaccine, and whether they did have developed immunity to the disease.

Data from the Covid vaccine clinical trials showed that:

· Pfizer– Over 40,000 volunteers, over 94% effective, no serious safety concerns reported

· Moderna– Over 30,000 volunteers, over 94% effective, no serious safety concerns

· Johnson and Johnson – 40,000 volunteers, 85% effective, no serious side effects reported with the vaccine

Clinical study data also helped determine that the mRNA Covid vaccines required two doses for maximum effectiveness. The Johnson and Johnson viral vector vaccine requires one dose.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors vaccines during clinical trials and reviews all data collected. All three Covid vaccines have received emergency clearance from the FDA allowing their use by the general public

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Emergency Use Authorization is issued when clinical trials of a vaccine show safety and efficacy and there is an overwhelming need to manufacture a vaccine. With the World Health Organization declaring Covid a global pandemic, the need for a vaccine was urgent enough to obtain an emergency approval for to issue these vaccines.

CDC monitoring

Once a vaccine is used for the general public, the CDC is responsible for monitoring its safety and effectiveness. As more people receive the vaccines, data on their use in different populations become available. The CDC continues to believe that Covid vaccines are safe and effective. after this over 179 millionPeople have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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