Moderna COVID-19 vaccine: What are the side effects?
Moderna is a vaccine that protects against COVID-19, a disease caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus. Adults above the age of 18 are eligible to receive it. COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna contains mRNA that encodes the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein. SM-102 lipid nanoparticles contain the mRNA. It was developed by Moderna, the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)
The Moderna COVID-19 contains vaccine the following:
- messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)
- lipids SM-102, polyethylene glycol (PEG) 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine
- tromethamine hydrochloride
- acetic acid
- sodium acetate
Our immune system is made up of a complex network of muscles, cells, and tissues that all function together to keep us healthy. When a disease-causing germ (such as a virus or bacteria) attacks the body, your immune system does the following:
- Recognizes the germ as an alien invader (not belonging in the body).
- As an unwelcome microbe infiltrates your body with the purpose of feasting on your cells and reproducing inside us, our body has two defenses. Our innate immune system is your first line of defense: it responds to something alien, any signs of injury, and warning signals emitted by cells that are under attack, regardless of who is attacking. Our innate immune system does a lot of things: it raises the temperature to stress the threat, creates noxious and toxic chemicals, and gathers an army of carnivorous defenders to sweep up dead and dying cells, eat the invading bacteria, and collect fragments of their proteins for study.
- Our adaptive immune system is given time by your innate immune system. Specialized immune cells take the protein fragments and start producing antibodies, which are small Y-shaped proteins that circulate in your blood which precisely recognize and stick to the attacker’s proteins, labeling and flagging the bacteria for extermination. Antibodies often bind in a way that clogs up proteins required for the microbe’s survival. If a microbe’s active infection has been eradicated, our immune system saves those antibodies so that development of those antibodies will pick up quickly if the microbe is encountered again, and potential attacks can be thwarted.
How conventional vaccines work
Vaccination is our way of hijacking this mechanism in order to gain immunity without having to go through the potentially fatal or debilitating active infection that would otherwise be required to get there naturally. The earliest vaccines, such as those for smallpox, measles, and other diseases, were live-attenuated vaccines. We treated people with cowpox, a much milder relative of the smallpox virus that is near enough to have smallpox squished at the front door, to vaccinate them against smallpox. We used damaged or disabled but otherwise infectious microbes for others: they wouldn’t cause serious illness or death, but they’d do enough harm and activate our immune systems to produce antibodies that would shield us against the completely lethal virus in the wild.
We’ve mostly forgotten how much vaccines altered the environment and our association with illness in the modern era. For the first time in history, we had the power to defend ourselves from whole groups of terrifying pathogens that had been destroying and debilitating people for longer than history could recall. And all of them were infectious infections that antibiotics, the previous generation’s magic wonder cure, couldn’t help with.
These first-generation vaccines have noticeable drawbacks, despite the fact that they revolutionized the environment. The two most obvious were that, first, weakening a live, deadly microbe is an inevitably inconsistent operation, and second, even a weakened virus may trigger a bad case of the disease on occasion, particularly in people with already compromised immune systems.
So we created vaccines that deliver fully dormant and dead bacteria, followed by vaccines that only deliver the microbe’s basic essential protein or protein fragment that the microbe requires to target us. The problem is that dead microbes and protein fragments do not deliberately invade our bodies and therefore do not prompt our immune systems to respond. As a result, we have an adjuvant: a drug that irritates our immune system and causes our innate and adaptive immune systems to wake up and react. Despite this, inactivated or recombinant vaccinations often need several booster shots to be effective.
When you get a vaccine, the immune system reacts to it in the same manner as it does to a natural germ. It consists of:
- Recognizes the vaccine’s germ as being alien.
- It reacts by producing antibodies against the germ in the vaccine, just as it does against the real germ.
- Remembers what kind of bacteria it is and how to get rid of it. That way, if we are ever exposed to the disease-causing bacteria again, the immune system will be able to kill it easily before it can get you sick. This is how vaccines have immunity.
How does Moderna vaccine work?
COVID-19 is a virus that infects people. Moderna Vaccine boosts the body’s innate defenses (immune system). The vaccine operates by inducing the body to develop antibodies that protect against the COVID-19 virus. Moderna uses a drug called messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) to hold instructions for cells in the body to make the spike protein found on the virus.
mRNA vaccines are a brand-new concept. We supply any mRNA that codes for the protein itself instead of the dead microbe or the microbe’s essential protein. Our cells pick up the mRNA and translate it into their ribosomes, resulting in fragments of the microbe’s essential protein, much as if we’d injected it directly. It’s also harmless without the rest of the microbe attached. Furthermore, since mRNA is temporary and degrades over time, there is no chance of mutations in our DNA genes: mRNA is intrinsically healthy.
And here’s the best part: since many viruses, like the Covid-19 virus, use RNA as their primary carrier of genetic material, our innate immune system is already programmed to raise an alarm if it detects a large amount of loose RNA floating around, so we don’t need an adjuvant.
When you produce a certain protein with the aim of making a vaccine, the protein has its own particular structure and properties, and you have to find out how to treat it, store it, administer it, what kind of adjuvant works better at provoking antibodies to it, and all of that takes a lot of time, trial, and error. However, you can make mRNA that codes for any protein you like, and it will behave the same way. This makes it safer and easier to develop vaccines for any disease you can think of.
Possible Side Effects
This vaccine, like all vaccines, can induce side effects, but not everyone experiences them. If you have any of the following signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, seek medical help right away.
- feeling faint or light-headed;
- changes in your heartbeat;
- shortness of breath;
- swelling of your lips, face, or throat;
- hives or rash;
- nausea or vomiting;
- Stomach pain.
Talk to your doctor or nurse if you develop any other side effects. These can include: Very common (may affect more than 1 in 10 people):
- swelling in the underarm
- muscle ache,
- joint aches, and stiffness
- pain or swelling at the injection site
- feeling very tired
Tips to Help You Identify and Minimize Mild Side Effects:
- Read the Vaccine Information that came with your scheduling invite to refresh your knowledge about side effects.
- Use an ice pack or cool, damp cloth to help reduce redness, soreness, and/or swelling at the place where the shot was given.
- A cool bath can also be soothing.
- Drink plenty of liquids for 1-2 days after getting the vaccine.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever unless you have any specific contraindication.
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