The Science Behind The COVID-19 Vaccine From The AAP




After the last year of navigating COVID-19, you probably have plenty of questions about COVID-19 vaccines. We are excited to share this information from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This is a rapidly developing situation, but right now, vaccines are authorized for teens age 16 and older. However, the vaccines are expected to be available for children age 12 and up soon. Here are answers to some of the most common questions families have about COVID-19 vaccines.

Disclaimer: Adventure Nannies does not make any specific health-related recommendations for you or your family. Speak directly to your health care providers for insight and advice about the COVID-19 vaccine.


How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

The COVID-19 vaccine works similarly to other vaccines your child has had. Germs such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, invade and multiply inside the body. The vaccine stops this by helping the immune system make special proteins call antibodies to fight the virus. After vaccination, your child has less of a chance of getting COVID-19. And if they do get infected with the virus, they may not be as sick as they would without the vaccine.




What are the types of vaccines?

Three different vaccines were given emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so far. Two require two doses (Pfizer and Moderna), and one involves a single shot (Johnson & Johnson).

Distribution of the one-shot vaccine was temporarily paused to look for possible ties to rare but serious blood clots reported during the vaccine’s safety monitoring process. The FDA lifted ​the pause when data confirmed the chance of developing the rare clots with the vaccine is extremely low,  but they continue to monitor the risk.

The COVID-19 vaccines that require two doses are both messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines. The other was developed as a “viral vector” vaccine. They all have the same result — protecting people from COVID-19—but their delivery systems are a bit different.




How RNA and viral vector vaccines different?

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines carry instructions to our cells to produce harmless pieces of “spike” protein found on SARS-CoV-2. This triggers an immune system response that the body remembers if the virus ever invades.

Although this technology has been studied for decades, the widespread use of mRNA vaccines is new. They don’t use the live coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The mRNA in the vaccine gets into the cells where the shot is given. Then it gives the cells instructions on how to create a piece of protein that is found on the virus that causes COVID-19.

Once the protein is created, your immune system identifies it as a foreign molecule. body. The immune process starts, making antibodies that attach to the protein. These antibodies then protect you from getting COVID-19.

Viral vector vaccines, like the mRNA vaccines, also give instructions to your immune cells. Instead of carrying the instructions to your cells on a fat bubble, as with the mRNA vaccine, they are carried in a harmless virus (not the coronavirus that causes COVID-19)​.

The same process happens as with the mRNA vaccine—the cells create the protein that’s found on the virus that causes COVID-19, the immune system makes antibodies to fight it, and you’re protected from getting COVID-19.




How do we know COVID-19 vaccines are safe for kids?

Before getting FDA authorization, clinical trials showed COVID-19 vaccines to be remarkably safe and effective for adults and teens age 16 and up. Trials for each of the vaccines involved tens of thousands of volunteers.

Based on clinical trial results for younger adolescents, one of the vaccine makers has now asked the FDA to extend emergency use authorization for children as young as age 12. And clinical trials are starting for children as young as six months old.

The vaccines continue to be monitored very closely. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that COVID-19 vaccines will have “the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.”




How effective are the vaccines?

Research shows that all of the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at stopping people from getting COVID-19. The vaccines also help prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death in those who get COVID- 19.

Scientists don’t know how long immunity from the vaccine will protect people. This will become clearer in the future.




How long does it take for the vaccines to create immunity?

It takes around 2 weeks after getting the second dose of the mRNA vaccines for your body to build up an immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. For the one-dose vaccine, building up immunity takes 2 to 4 weeks.




What about the side effects of the vaccine?

We’re still waiting for more detailed information on side effects in kids under the age of 16 years old. Some people don’t have any side effects at all. But for those who are 16 or older, the most common side effects that have been reported include:

Pain, redness, and swelling where the injection was given, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, nausea, pain in the muscles

While also rare, some people have had serious allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. This is why you’ll need to wait for 15 to 30 minutes after you have a vaccination. If you happen to be one of the few people who has an allergic reaction, there are medications to quickly treat it.

As for long-term side effects, the CDC says this is unlikely. We have years of research and monitoring on other vaccinations that show side effects almost always happen within six weeks of getting a vaccine.




As with any health-related questions, the best course of action is to speak directly to your healthcare providers about their recommendations for you and your family. Adventure Nannies does not make any specific health-related recommendations for you or your family. This information has been provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Do you have any experiences navigating the COVID-19 vaccine as a care provider? We’d love to hear your story — reach out to us!

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