Address Concerns About How Vaccines Work
There are several types of vaccines available for use in the United States to prevent COVID-19:
- Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (COMIRNATY) and the Moderna vaccine (SPIKEVAX) are examples of mRNA vaccines. The mRNA vaccines are preferred for most people.
- Viral vector vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine is an example of a viral vector vaccine.
- Protein subunit vaccines. The Novavax vaccine is an example of a protein subunit vaccine with an adjuvant. An adjuvant is an ingredient used in some vaccines to help create a stronger immunity.
- COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without people having to get the illness.
- Vaccines work by teaching the body to recognize and fight off the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, people may notice their body gearing up to make antibodies and build immunity. Sometimes this means people feel feverish, nauseated, achy, or tired, and they may have a headache or a sore arm during the first few days after vaccination. These symptoms typically resolve on their own within a day or two.
- Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection.
- None of the COVID-19 vaccines can give a patient COVID-19.
Information for Pharmacy Teams
Read the overview by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work
to learn about the different types of available COVID-19 vaccines, how they work, and how they were developed.
Take the short quiz COVID-19 Vaccines and Vaccine Confidence
to test your knowledge about vaccine confidence basics, the role pharmacists can play in building confidence, types of vaccine platforms (mRNA, viral vector), myths about vaccine use in childbearing years, and vaccine efficacy and effectiveness.
Participate in APhA’s Trigger Tape Training
, which reviews key points to communicate with patients by providing patient scenarios and the recommended response to each one.
Information for Patients
Share APhA’s patient brochure on Getting to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines
. This brochure explains the different types of vaccines, defines key terms for patients to know, and contains a QR code to the most up-to-date CDC recommendations.
Review CDC’s infographic on How mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Work
with your patients to explain what mRNA is and what happens inside the body when this type of vaccine is administered.
Review CDC’s infographic on How Protein Subunit COVID-19 Vaccines Work
with your patients to explain what a protein subunit vaccine is and what happens inside the body when this type of vaccine is administered.