COVID-19 Vaccine to be Distributed Throughout the Country

An overview of the vaccine and commonly asked questions regarding it.

Tia Munoz, Edior in Chief

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 11, 2020. Following that, the FDA also authorized the emergency use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. 

EUA is special FDA permission that allows a drug to be administered in emergency scenarios to promote public health even while late-stage research continues (The University of Kansas Health System). 

Unlike many other vaccines, which put the live virus into the body, the COVID-19 vaccine is a messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccine. mRNA vaccines show the body what protein it needs to make to trigger an immune response to fight off a certain disease. 

“We have DNA in each of our cells, and in order to get our traits and our proteins in our bodies, that DNA makes RNA. There’s different types of RNA…when we’re talking about mRNA vaccines, it is something that our body has and already makes, it’s just that this one is a little bit different for our body to respond to and create antibodies for,” Stacie Borjon, biology teacher, said. 

In this case, the COVID-19 vaccine provides instructions for the body’s cells to produce a “spike protein.” The spike protein is also found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. The immune response produces antibodies, which is what protects the body in the event that it comes in contact with the virus (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Due to how fast the vaccines were created, there have been many speculations around whether or not it is safe. While these specific vaccines were produced quickly, research regarding mRNA vaccines, in general, has been going on for several years. 

“When we had the SARS outbreak, SARS is a Coronavirus as well. It’s the type and the shape of what it looks like, and things like that, is why it’s called a Coronavirus, and how it’s classified,” Borjon said. “Scientists started doing more research then when we had the outbreak of SARS, and so that’s why we were able to make a vaccine faster for COVID because we’ve been studying the vaccines from the other ones.”

Additionally, the vaccines went through rigorous safety trials prior to being authorized, including large clinical trials and data reviews by a safety monitoring board (CDC). 

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has created a plan that will roll the vaccine out in five phases. The first phase prioritizes healthcare workers, residents or patients in long-term senior houses, and workers deemed critical to the pandemic response. Kansas is currently in the second phase, which includes people aged 65 and older, high contact critical workers, and anyone prioritized in the first phase that is still unvaccinated. 

Further and specific questions regarding COVID-19 and the vaccine should be asked to a healthcare professional. 


Commonly asked questions: 

Can the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. The current authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live COVID-19 virus, therefore they cannot make you sick with it. 


Will the COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine does not interact with or change your DNA in any way. 


Are there side effects of getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Commonly reported side effects that typically lasted several days include injection site pain, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever.