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Dear Grandma, Let’s Talk Coronavirus Vaccine
Kelly Ochoa, MD
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Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
I’d like to tell you how the Coronavirus Vaccine is working in your body. Little things called ribosomes work hard all day in our body making proteins. Proteins are used in our body for many different things, and travel in our bloodstream to where they’re needed. Proteins can also be found on the outside of viruses.
mRNA – the Blue Print for Protein Building
Ribosomes use an instruction guide called messenger RNA (mRNA) to know how to make all the different proteins our body uses. Scientists were able to make mRNA instructions for a harmless protein on the outside of the coronavirus. Let’s call this little harmless protein Spike. The mRNA instructions for Spike are in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, and tell your ribosomes to make a whole bunch of harmless Spikes. When the ribosomes are done, the mRNA for Spike is destroyed.
Spike the Intruder
Then Spike enters the bloodstream, and it looks a bit like coronavirus, but it is not the actual virus, and it is not dangerous. The immune cells in your blood see this protein that they do not recognize and label it as an intruder. Your immune system bans together to attack this coronavirus lookalike, forming antibodies to Spike. Some of your immune system has the ability to remember Spike for a long time.
This is all very hard work for your body, and can sometimes cause a fever and fatigue, just like when fighting a real virus. But all that hard work by your immune system pays off. Now, if the REAL coronavirus with the REAL Spike enters your body, your immune system recognizes it and is able to get right to action, fighting the Coronavirus before it is able to cause severe illness. And just like that you have immunity to COVID-19!