A messenger RNA, or mRNA vaccine is a new type of vaccine. mRNA vaccines teach your cells how to make a harmless piece of the “spike protein.” The spike protein is what you see on the surface of the coronavirus. Your immune system sees that the protein doesn’t belong there and your body will start to build an immune response and make antibodies. This is similar to what happens when we “naturally” get a COVID-19 infection.
Although we have used mRNA for other types of medical and veterinary care in the past, creating vaccines using this method is a huge leap forward in science and may mean future vaccines can be created more easily.
You may read more about how mRNA vaccines work on CDC’s website, or watch this video from Dr. Paul Offit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.