Vaccines help protect the body from disease by teaching the immune system to fight germs.
UNC Health recommends that North Carolina residents receive a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. We know some people have questions about COVID-19 vaccines, but also about how vaccines work in general.
How does the body fight illness?
How Does A Vaccine Work?
Vaccines can mimic this process and teach the body how to fight the infection, developing immunity in the body, reducing the risk of disease. How the vaccine imitates a viral infection depends on the virus itself. The kind of germ and how it invades and multiplies in the body determine how researchers attempt to create a vaccine to imitate the infection.
Types of vaccines
There are five types of vaccines that help the body learn to fight infection in different ways.
The future of vaccines
Just as the mRNA vaccine is a new type of vaccine that is built on more than a decade of research, scientists continue to work on creating new types of vaccines. Two examples of new types of vaccines are:
- DNA vaccines trigger creation of particular molecules that start the immune response.
- Recombinant vector vaccines, which act like a natural infection
While some people experience side effects after getting the vaccine, the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine cannot give someone COVID-19. Side effects are a signal that the body is creating a protective defense against future infection. It does not use a live virus, so unlike some vaccines, even people who are allergic to eggs can get this mRNA vaccine.
- Learn more about vaccines and vaccine safety from the CDC here.
- Learn more about how the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine works.
- Learn more about how the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine works.
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