How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
From the common cold to the seasonal flu, your body is busy fighting off bacterial and viral infections.
The more your body fends off an infection, the better it’s able to respond when it encounters the infection.
One way your body fights infection is with antibodies. These antibodies attack the virus or bacteria making you sick, both by killing the virus and keeping it from reproducing.
COVID-19, which comes from a novel — or “new” — coronavirus, has been so dangerous because no one has encountered it before. Practically no one’s body has experience in fighting off the infection.
The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a live virus and has no risk of making you sick with COVID-19. This type of vaccine, called an mRNA vaccine, works by triggering the production of new antibodies in your body that fight the coronavirus. It does not change your DNA — it “teaches” your body to fight the virus.
Early research has shown that the vaccine is even more effective than the seasonal flu vaccine at helping your body fight the virus. It’s up to 70% effective after the first dose, and 90% or better after the second.
The risk of side effects remains low and most side effects usually resolve within 36 hours.
Even if you were to get sick with COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine, your body will be much better prepared to fight off the infection, so you will likely get better, faster.