Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

How does the Covid vaccine work and why is it safe? – University of California Fig. 1

Watch more with these video collections:

Many have heard the story of the first vaccination in 1796, when Dr. Edward Jenner infected “a patient with a mild dose of smallpox in the expectation that it would provide protection from a more severe infection.” This story from history—getting the body to easily fight off a harmless scrap of the virus to train it to fight the real virus—is often what we think of when we think about vaccines.

Modern vaccines can help our bodies gain immunity in a different way, and it’s an efficient process that doesn’t take as long as historic approaches. Learn more with this University of California Fig. 1 video that features U.C. Irvine’s Professor Emeritus and Founding Director of the Center for Virus Research, Dr. Luis Villarreal: The COVID Vaccine Came Out Super Quickly. Here’s Why It’s Safe.

For decades [scientists have] been working on a new type of vaccine, called mRNA or messenger RNA. Like viruses, the mRNA carries a set of instructions, but they don’t have any viral material in them.

mRNA vaccine delivering instructions

mRNA vaccines have one purpose and that’s to tell the body to make harmless spike proteins found on the COVID-19 virus. Rather than spending years in the lab making these proteins for a vaccine, our body can easily do it in a matter of weeks.”

spike proteins
This works because, as The Conversation describes, mRNA is “the messenger molecule that’s been in every living cell for billions of years.” Scientists are just leveraging this system to deliver the vaccine’s instructions: “Start making those harmless spike proteins.”

And when the instructions have been read, the mRNA is thrown away, “destroyed by the cell – just as any other mRNA would be.”

throwing away the old mRNA
“That’s vastly preferable to letting COVID-19, or other viruses we vaccinate for, work their way through your cells,” reminds the Fig. 1 video above.

More from Texas A&M University Associate Professor Dr. Penny Riggs in The Conversation:

Although these are new vaccines, the underlying technology was initially developed many years ago and improved incrementally over time. As a result, the vaccines have been well tested for safety. The success of these mRNA vaccines against COVID-19, in terms of safety and efficacy, predicts a bright future for new vaccine therapies that can be quickly tailored to new, emerging threats.

Read more information at UniversityOfCalifornia.edu: The COVID vaccine came out super quickly. Here’s why it’s safe.

PODCAST ALERT with the Brains On! Science podcast for kids:
A super special shot: All about coronavirus vaccines.


Plus, let Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Dr. Paul Offit explain it and find more information from The New York Times Parenting newsletter.

File under vaccines, including:
• How does your immune system work?
Immunity and Vaccines Explained by NOVA PBS
• How to Handle Shots, a kid explainer

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.