About Covid 19 Vaccines

How Do COVID-19 Vaccines Work?

Medical researchers are developing vaccines for COVID-19, using a variety of germ-fighting strategies. All of these vaccines have one thing in common: they’re designed to jump-start the body’s immunological response by introducing harmless variants on the SARS-CoV-2 virus in order to build immunity against COVID-19.

White blood cells are the foot soldiers of the human immune response. There are three main types of white blood cells: macrophages, which swallow up germs and dead cells; B-lymphocytes, which manufacture antibodies to attack active pathogens; and T-lymphocytes, which focus on human cells already harboring infection. Though effective against many types of disease, white blood cells require time to mount a successful defense against invading pathogens. The great advantage of vaccination is that it helps prepare your body’s immune response without you getting ill. If you do eventually become infected, your body’s defenses swing into action much faster, limiting your symptoms and speeding up your recovery.

What Types of COVID-19 Vaccines Are There?

The COVID-19 vaccines currently fall into one of four primary categories:

  • mRNA vaccines: Genetically engineered RNA molecules induce human cells to produce a harmless protein that is associated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This protein prompts your body to begin manufacturing COVID-19 antibodies.
  • Viral-vector vaccines: Viral-vector vaccines contain a weakened version of a virus similar enough to SARS-CoV-2 that your immune system creates antibodies that will be effective against COVID-19.
  • Protein subunit vaccines: The proteins contained by this vaccine are harmless components of the COVID-19 virus. Your body detects the presence of these proteins, and ramps up an immune response.
  • Inactive or weakened virus vaccines: This vaccine contains a harmless version of the COVID-19 pathogen, which spurs the production of white blood cells and antibodies in response.

These vaccines are being produced by a number of different pharmaceutical businesses, each with its own timeline for development and testing. They will not be approved for use in the U.S. without rigorous clinical evaluation of their safety and efficacy.

What Vaccines Are Currently Available?

As of August 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved or authorized for emergency use four vaccines for COVID-19: 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech: Pfizer-BioNTech is an mRNA vaccine approved for use with persons aged 6 months and older. 
  • Moderna: Moderna is also an mRNA vaccine; it may be used with individuals who are 6 months and older. 
  • Johnson & Johnson: Johnson & Johnson is a viral-vector vaccine; its use is limited to persons 18 years or older for whom the other vaccines are unavailable or are clinically inappropriate. 
  • Novavax: Novavax is the most recently authorized vaccine. It is a protein-subunit vaccine approved for individuals 12 years or older. 

Helping End the COVID-19 Crisis

To schedule a vaccine please contact your Primary Care provider or check availability at chfs.ky.gov for Kentucky and OurShot.in.gov for Indiana. Several pharmacies in the community are also offering vaccinations.