How Do Messenger RNA (mRNA) Vaccines Work?

An infographic describing how mRNA vaccines work. The text below fully describes the graphic content.
Credit: Cody Shipman, CoVPN

mRNA vaccines give your body the information needed to defend against a virus.

  1. mRNA has instructions for making the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2.
  2. mRNA enters a human muscle cell through an injection.
  3. mRNA in the cell delivers the Instructions to make the spike protein. It lasts about 24 hrs.
  4. Cell makes spike protein and displays it on the surface for about 3 days.
  5. Immune system sees the spike protein, recognizes it as foreign, and creates an immune response to prevent disease.

How Many Doses Are Needed?

These vaccines require 2 doses to get the most benefit.

  • 1 DOSE = about 50% protection
  • 2 DOSES = about 95% protection

Together we can help end uncertainty. Join us.

We need your help to keep learning and improving vaccines against COVID-19. We made history with safe and effective vaccines and we’ll keep working as long as there are people to protect, variants emerging, and research answers needed to end this pandemic. To participate:

  • Fill out the survey again so we have your most current information to match you with a study, even if you filled it out previously!
  • If you haven’t registered to volunteer before, sign up today. There’s still a lot we can do together for those we love.

Volunteer

Content last reviewed on May 12, 2021