COVID-19 Vaccine Myths

Additional updates coming soon - Last updated 10/12/21 at 9:00am.

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COVID-19 Myth Busters (png)

*As of October 8, 2021, 49% of Cascade County's eligible population age 12+ is fully vaccinated.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  1. mRNA
  2. Approval Process
  3. Fertility
  4. Long-Term Effects
  5. Variants
  6. Test Accuracy

DNA vs. RNA

DNA is a double-stranded nucleotide chain that resides in your cells' nuclei. It is the set of master instructions for, among other things, the creation of proteins within the cell. When cells divide, the DNA is copied and duplicated, so it is passed on to future generations of cells.

So how do DNA's instructions get out of the nucleus where they can be used in the cytoplasm (the cellular material outside the nucleus) to assemble proteins? That is the role of messenger RNA, or mRNA. An enzyme in the nucleus binds to a DNA molecule and "unzips" the two strands of the double helix. It then reads one strand, nucleotide by nucleotide, and assembles another chain of complementary nucleotides. This complementary copy of a DNA strand segment is RNA.

There are several types of RNA. Each has a different function. For example, transfer RNA (tRNA) binds to amino acids and carries them to "ribosomes" within the cell cytoplasm so that they can be assembled into proteins. The role of mRNA is to carry the protein assembly instructions from the nucleus to a ribosome in the cytoplasm, where amino acids are then linked together in the order specified by the mRNA to form proteins.

Unlike DNA, RNA is not duplicated during cell division. It is not passed on to subsequent generations of cells. In fact, it degrades quite quickly within the cell cytoplasm - this rapid decay has historically been one of the main problems that had to be solved to produce effective mRNA vaccines. nRNA is not a permanent fixture of the cell like DNA - it serves its purpose and then decays and is destroyed. It does not re-enter the nucleus from the cytoplasm, and it does not change your cells' DNA which gets duplicated and passed on through cell division.

mRNA Vaccines

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines utilize mRNA. The injected solution contains strands of mRNA enclosed in a lipid (fat) capsule to protect it from degrading too quickly. The lipid capsule enters a cell and releases the mRNA within. The mRNA makes its way to a ribosome and directs the assembly of a certain kind of protein - a "spike protein." These are the same spike proteins that are present on the exterior of a coronavirus particle, and they are what your body's white blood cells use to identify the invasive virus so it can be destroyed. With the vaccines, the newly created spike proteins then exit the cell and are recognized as invaders by the white blood cells and other mechanisms of the immune system. The body responds by producing lots of new immune system cells that can attack anything identified as having the spike protein. Then, if you are later infected with a coronavirus, the body already has a robust defense system in place and ready to fight it off very quickly.

Again, it is important to remember that:

1. The injected mRNA does not stick around permanently. It lasts long enough to produce some of the spike proteins that will trigger an immune response, then degrades and effectively "dies." 

2. The injected mRNA does not enter the cell nucleus where DNA is stored. It does not affect or change your DNA in any way.