Jan. 11, 2021—COVID-19 vaccines give us our best shot at beating the pandemic. In time, everyone will have a chance to get one.
But in the meantime, if you have concerns about what's in them, these facts may give you peace of mind.
No live virus in the vaccine
Vaccines contain ingredients that help your body build immunity against a specific virus. However, not all vaccines have the same ingredients.
The two COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. are the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. They are a newer type of vaccine, called mRNA vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.
They don't use live or weakened viruses to build immunity. Instead, they use messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA instructs cells to make a harmless piece of the virus's genetic material called the spike protein, which is found on the surface of the coronavirus. This teaches the immune system to recognize and fight the real virus. But because the vaccine doesn't contain any live virus, there's no way it can give you COVID-19.
The vaccine's mRNA does not stay in the body, and it cannot change your DNA.
Also not included
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also lack some other ingredients some people may be concerned about. They do not have:
What is in the shot?
Like all vaccine ingredients, those in the COVID-19 vaccine serve a specific purpose. For instance, some ingredients help the vaccine work. Others are needed to help produce the vaccine.
Here are some of the other ingredients in the two COVID-19 vaccines now in use. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns about them.
Talk to your doctor
Some side effects have occurred with COVID-19 vaccines. Most are minor, like a sore arm. A few people have had more serious allergic reactions, but this is very rare. CDC says that if you have had an allergic reaction to PEG or polysorbate, you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. You can help make your shot even safer by telling your provider if you:
To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines, visit our Coronavirus health topic center.