Two vaccines received approval for emergency use authorization and are available in the United States. These vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which give our bodies instructions to “build” an inactive portion of the COVID-19 virus. This, in turn, triggers our immune system to create antibodies to the virus.
Other vaccines in development are called viral vector vaccines. These types of vaccines use other inactivated viruses to introduce COVID-19 genetic material or proteins to our immune systems and trigger an immune response.
A third type of vaccine, called protein-based vaccines, simply introduce the body’s immune system to COVID-19 protein fragments but no genetic material.
The FDA’s vaccine approval process is rigorous and based on advanced data analytics. Safety and efficacy data gathered in preclinical trials as well as during three rigorous phases of investigation is thoroughly examined by scientists. Recommendations are made only when these scientists agree the vaccine will effectively and safely reduced rates and severity of infectious diseases. The FDA describes Emergency Use Authorization as “different than an FDA approval or clearance. Under an EUA, in an emergency, the FDA makes a product available to the public based on the best available evidence, without waiting for all the evidence that would be needed for FDA approval or clearance.” However, EUA vaccines have completed Phase III trials.
Whether to get the COVID vaccine is a personal decision. Please reach out to your primary care physician if you have questions or concerns.