HOW A VACCINE IS MADE
- The COVID-19 vaccine was created in under a year. Despite this, NO safety shortcuts were taken.
- There is no live COVID-19 virus in the vaccine so you will not get COVID from getting vaccinated.
3 COMPONENTS OF A VACCINE FORMULATION
1. The antigen – Picking one or more components of the disease-causing organism that you want to mount an immune response to
2. The adjuvant – Generates signals that will fully trigger the immune response to those antigens
3. The delivery vehicle for the vaccine – How the vaccine is delivered to cells in the body (a key element to ensure successful vaccination)
HOW DO WE KNOW IT’S SAFE?
- The mRNA, lipid-nanoparticles and viral vector technologies used in the vaccines have been developed and studied for decades
- Strong collaboration at an international level allowed for zero funding barriers in implementing the necessary clinical trials
- Large and robust clinical trials due to high number of COVID-19 cases allowed for more information gathered in studies
HOW A VACCINE WORKS
Your immune system plays a primary role in infection, disease, allergy, and many other elements of everyday life. It is broken down into 3 lines of defense:
1. PHYSICAL: Prevent pathogens from entering the body (eg. skin, mucus)
2. IMMUNE CELLS: AKA White Blood Cells, which create “knee-jerk” reactions to get the invader out of the body as soon as possible
3. ADAPTIVE IMMUNE SYSTEM: Learn about the pathogen and attempt to destroy it in very specific ways by identifying its weaknesses and releasing targeted “ammunition”
If a pathogen manages to outsmart this line of defense, it can replicate and cause harm to the person infected. BUT cells have the ability to remember things about pathogens and how to destroy them. Vaccines help by creating immune memory, which allows the immune system to learn exactly how to defeat the pathogen when it comes into contact with it. (This is why the second dose is extra important: it helps with immune memory!)
For a great video that describes vaccinations and the immune system in further detail, click here.
WHO SHOULD GET THE VACCINE
In Canada, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for most people 12 years and older. However, some may be allergic to a component of the vaccine:
- Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs) – Pfizer, Moderna
(A common ingredient in cosmetics, skin care, cleaning products and baby wipes)
- Polysorbate 80 – AstraZeneca
(Can be found in foods, cosmetics, vitamins, and medications)
- Tromethamine – Moderna
(Found in nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Ketorolac (brand name Toradol)
- Common side effects include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, chills, fatigue, joint pain, headache, mild fever, and muscle aches
- Side effects can be a sign that the vaccine is working! They are caused by the body’s natural inflammatory response that works to build immunity against the disease
The UBC Microbiology and Immunology Student Association (MISA) also created an animation about why it's important for people to get vaccinted! You can check out their video here.
WHY GET VACCINATED?
- Reduces your risk of severe illness and dying from COVID-19 infection
- Helps to generate community immunity which protects the young and old who themselves have a limited ability to respond to the virus
- Reduces your chance of being an incubator for the virus: the more the virus replicates, the greater chance it will mutate
WHY GET TWO DOSES?
- In Canada, two doses of the mRNA (Moderna, Pfizer) and AstraZeneca vaccines give you a much higher level of protection that lasts longer
- Two doses help you generate long-lived memory cells that remember the SARS-Cov-2 virus and are ready to fight should you get infected
- You will be better protected against the virus and the known variants than with one or no doses
HOW TO GET VACCINATED IN BC
Visit Gov BC and register for a time in a location that is easiest for you!
For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccine, visit these health resources:
- COVID-19 Vaccine Info Session with Dr. Maria Tokuyama
- UBC's COVID Research
- Science Explained
- BC Center for Disease control (BC-CDC)
- BC Health
- World Health Organization (WHO)
Vaccination info put together with help from resource links and Dr. Pauline Johnson in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.