Get to know mRNA vaccines and how they work

The mRNA vaccine is a type of vaccine developed to treat or prevent the spread of COVID-19. This vaccine is a new type of vaccine whose content is different from other types of vaccines.

Vaccines usually contain a virus or disease-causing germ that has been weakened or killed. However, the mRNA vaccine (messenger RNA) is a vaccine with a new technology or variant.

The mRNA vaccine does not use a weakened or killed virus or germ, but rather a component of genetic material that is engineered to resemble a particular germ or virus. Thus, this vaccine can trigger an immune reaction like viruses and germs that are weakened in ordinary vaccines.

This type of vaccine is currently being developed as a Corona virus vaccine to trigger the body's immune response to fight the COVID-19 disease.

How mRNA vaccines work

The mRNA vaccine is given by injection into a muscle, usually in the upper arm.

After entering the body, mRNA from the vaccine captured by immune cells will direct these cells to produce spike protein. This protein is a protein that makes up part of the surface of the Corona virus.  

Furthermore, after the body's immune cells recognize these components, the immune system will produce specific antibodies to fight the Corona virus.

By giving the mRNA vaccine, it is hoped that the body will more quickly detect and destroy the Corona virus when you are exposed to the virus, so that you can avoid COVID-19. After giving this vaccine, you can undergo serological tests to determine whether your body has produced an immune reaction to the Corona virus. However, this test is not mandatory for everyone.

Prior to being used as a vaccine for COVID-19, mRNA vaccine technology has been extensively studied for its effectiveness against flu, Zika, rabies, and influenza. cytomegalovirus (CMV). This vaccine is also used by researchers to trigger the immune system's reaction against tumor cells.

Advantages and Disadvantages of mRNA Vaccines

The mRNA vaccine has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of mRNA vaccines are:

  • This type of vaccine is easy to make because it can be developed in the laboratory using readily available materials.
  • The price is cheap.
  • The mRNA vaccine does not cause infection because it does not contain viruses or bacteria.
  • Research so far has shown that the mRNA vaccine is safe for the elderly.

On the other hand, mRNA vaccines also have some disadvantages, namely:

  • This vaccine must be stored at a very cold temperature of -70° Celsius or lower, requiring a special refrigerated container. This can be a challenge for countries that do not have such equipment, especially developing countries.
  • Vaccination needs to be done more than once.
  • The mRNA vaccine can only be given to the age group 16 years and over.

mRNA Vaccine Safety

Some time ago there were rumors that mRNA vaccines can damage human DNA, but this has not been proven true.

The mRNA vaccine has no effect on the genetic components or DNA of the human body, because the immune cells of the body will get rid of the components of the mRNA vaccine as soon as the vaccine works and successfully creates immunity against disease.

However, just like other vaccines, mRNA vaccines can also cause some side effects, such as:

  • Pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Joint pain
  • Chills or fever
  • Nauseous

As long as the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, don't forget to always apply health protocols wherever you are, especially when doing activities outside the home.

If you have a history of contact with a COVID-19 patient or experience symptoms of cough, fever, hoarseness, anosmia, or shortness of breath, immediately contact the nearest health care facility to get a COVID-19 examination.

If you want to know more about mRNA vaccines, you can chat directly with a doctor or make an appointment with a doctor in the ALODOKTER application.