Understanding how Vaccines Work
Jane is planning to book her COVID-19 vaccination. She calls her doctor to find out some
information about the different types of vaccines…
Jane: Good morning, Dr White. Can you please give me some information about COVID-19
vaccines and how they work?
Dr White: Good morning Jane. Of course, I can! First of all, you need understand the basics
of how our immune system works. Basically, when any virus enters your body, it will attach
itself to one of your cells and inject its DNA or RNA into it - this contains instructions for
what the cell has to make. So, it will tell your cells to make more copies of the same virus.
Jane: OK… So, how can my body defend itself?
Dr White: Well, our immune system naturally attacks any virus, or bacteria which does not
belong in our body. Although, it takes a few days for it to act. So, to give our immune system
a helping hand, scientists have developed vaccines.
Jane: How many types of vaccine exist?
Dr White: There are various types of vaccines, but the latest are the mRNA ones.
Jane: Are they safe?
Dr White: The biggest misunderstanding about this technology is that the mRNA in the
vaccine can enter our cells and change our very own DNA, but that is not true - mRNA is
very fragile and only survives a few hours in our bodies, just long enough to produce viral
proteins which kickstart our bodies immune response. After a while, your body will break
down all of the vaccines mRNA.
Jane: OK… and what happens with the traditional vaccines?
Dr White: More traditional vaccines use weakened versions of the actual virus. This also
triggers an immune response, but it can give you mild symptoms.
Jane: Thank you very much for explaining, Dr. White. I feel much more confident, and I’m
looking forward to receiving my vaccine soon!
To come around
To become conscious again after an illness or an operation
One hour after the operation, she started to come around.
To shake something off
To get rid of an illness
I really hope I can shake this cold off before the weekend.
To pass out
To become unconscious for a short period of time.
When the ball hit her on the head, she passed out.
To pick something up
To start to suffer from something
She picked up the cold when she was- on holiday.
To come down with something
To start to suffer symptoms of an illness.
I think I’m starting to come down with the flu.