MURRAY – The COVID vaccine that people are receiving is different from vaccines in the past in many ways, but the most important is how it is made..

One of the biggest problems with vaccines that people have is that the vaccine contains a live or dead strain of a virus. This has altered some people from receiving the COVID vaccine, but Dr. Bob Hughes, Village Medical’s national medical director for Rural Health and Murray State University’s chief medical officer, said that the vaccines for COVID do not have a strain of the virus. 

“The vaccine technology (that was used until recently) was about 100 years old,” Hughes said. “What you would do is introduce either a live virus that has been modified and that was introduced into something that it would grow and multiply in, which was typically an egg yolk. That’s why a lot of times you would be asked before a vaccine if you were allergic to eggs. It was a slow process and could not be made quickly.”

He explained that the current way to make vaccines is by chemicals that are considered the building blocks of messenger RNA (m-RNA) which can be made in greater quantities. 

Hughes explains that there is DNA, which has a person’s genes and chromosomes and is in the nucleus, and you have RNA, which is what converts genetic information from DNA into proteins and is located outside of the nucleus. Ribosomes, which are the”R” in RNA, are responsible for making the proteins. 

So, what the current vaccine does is tell the ribosomes to make a protein that resembles the spikes of the COVID virus. If you can recall from pictures of the COVID cell, which was plastered over everything when the virus first came around, the red spikes on most pictures are what is being referred to. That is what causes people to get sick after receiving the vaccine because it is an imitation of the spikes on the virus and you are making antibodies of the spike protein. 

“(The vaccine) never gets inside your nucleus,” Hughes said  “And it can not affect your baby and it cannot affect you. It can’t change you because it is outside of the nucleus.”

Another way the vaccines are made is how scientists can alter a vaccine. This is important because with every new variant, the make-up of the spikes in the virus changes. This affects the vaccine because it is not 100% tailored to the current variant, but it still works and prevents deaths and hospitalizations. Hughes explains that when another variant hits, scientists can go into the vaccines and alter the m-RNA code to match whichever variant it needs to. The change only takes a couple of weeks and can be made in a lab compared to waiting for something to grow and incubate inside a living organism. Hughes stresses that the vaccine is safe and there has been over a billion doses and there has not been a confirmed or proven case of someone dying because of the vaccine.  

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