The COVID-19 Vaccine – What is it? | Teen Ink

The COVID-19 Vaccine – What is it?

February 28, 2023
By VSingh356 BRONZE, Walpole, Massachusetts
VSingh356 BRONZE, Walpole, Massachusetts
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

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The last few years were unlike what we’ve ever seen. COVID-19 had struck leaving hospitals to clean up the mess. Finally, just when we thought it was over, the infamous Delta variant struck again and this time we had to find a solution. The world is eagerly awaiting the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine, and for good reason. The virus has had a devastating impact on public health and the global economy, and a vaccine could help us return to normal life. A new vaccine was proposed, one that was going to save us all… But what exactly are they injecting into your body? How were the doctors positive that it would work? 

What is a Vaccine?
Before we dive into the COVID-19 vaccine, let’s take a step back to see what any vaccine does. Vaccines are safe and effective, like many other things they will never be 100% safe but it depends on which risk you are willing to take. First and foremost, safety is a priority. Vaccine developers are taking all necessary precautions to ensure that the vaccines they develop are safe, effective, and of the highest quality. Vaccines must pass a rigorous review process before they can be approved for use in the general public. Vaccines cause side effects but they go away quickly compared to an actual virus. The reason most people feel side effects is because that is how the vaccine trains your immune system. 

When you have caught a virus your body tends to feel ill because your immune system is fighting it. It takes a while if you caught a virus fist time because your body is not prepared to fight that virus. Antibodies are the training system for your immune system. Once you have caught the virus and fought it memory cells will remember the virus and the virus in your body will be used against any others that come back. The virus that the immune system already fought is called antibodies.

Second, effectiveness is key. Vaccines are designed to protect against disease by stimulating the body’s immune system, so their effectiveness is essential. When you get a vaccine, it contains antibodies. The whole point of a vaccine is to give you antibodies without having to go to the process of getting sick. For this reason people normally get the symptoms of the virus because the antibodies are training your immune system. 

The First Vaccine
Now, let’s understand who created this powerful weapon against viruses. Edward Jenner is the creator of vaccines in 1796. He was a doctor who lived in Berkeley, England. He injected a teenager with cowpox or as he called it, vaccinia virus. Jenner got the idea when he realised that farmers and people who worked with cows were not effected by smallpox. This was because they experienced a mild version of smallpox known as cowpox.

The Next Generation of Vaccines
During this COVID-19 Pandemic, scientists have created a new generation of vaccines called mRNA vaccines. The SARS-CoV-2 virus aka COVID-19 virus, has these tiny spikes on the outside, as you may have seen on a picture. The spikes give the virus exact instructions on specific cells to invade.

What if vaccines could train your immune system to recognize these exact spikes? This was the key to stopping this pandemic! Scientists took it to the next level, they took the virus RNA and took the part that created these spikes. They then took this and created mRNA which stands for Messenger Ribonucleic acid or Messenger RNA. The mRNA can give your cells instructions, to make their own spikes. When your cells make these spikes your immune system starts their training. The mRNA and spikes are destroyed only Memory Cells or B Cells are left with memory of the exact spikes so when COVID-19 enters your body your immune system is ready to fight.

There have been many pandemics and viruses that were deadly before COVID-19 pandemic. The Smallpox and Influenza (flu) are most remembered. People say that in 1979 smallpox was eradicated but really it wasn’t. Smallpox vaccine was very important, when enough people are vaccinated pandemics decrease, but the virus or germ is NEVER finished. People have only been able to prevent themselves from being sick and hurt from them. If nobody was vaccinated then this world would almost be impossible to survive in without being badly sick. Masks can only help so much but they can’t stop everything. Each person who gets vaccinated is helping the people of our earth who can’t get vaccines for so many reasons. We can stop this pandemic but we all have to work together to make it happen.  

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“What are Vaccines? Video by Health Nuts Media – Epic.” 31 Aug. 2019, Accessed 27 Dec. 2022.

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 “Pfizer and BioNTech Announce Vaccine Candidate Against COVID ….” 9 Nov. 2020, Accessed 27 Dec. 2022.

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The author's comments:

I was scared and very interested at the time, I did a research project about vaccines and deciding to dig deeper. That's why I wrote about it.

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