Coronavirus Vocabulary: Vaccine

Coronavirus Vocabulary: Vaccine

  • Published on Dec 02, 2020

Video Transcript


SPEAKER: Coronavirus has been

teaching us a lot

about infectious disease

and public health, but it’s also

teaching us a lot of new words.

I’m going to help you talk


It really is learning

a new language.

What is a vaccine,

and how exactly does it work?

Vaccines are unique in medicine

that they’re designed to prevent

rather than cure an illness.

Typically, they contain

a tiny amount of a disease

that’s been either killed

or weakened to the point

that it can’t make you sick.

The idea is to stimulate

your immune system into action

so that it produces

protective antibodies

in the same way it would if you

actually got sick.

We already have vaccines that

protect us from more than 20

life-threatening diseases.

The World Health Organization

estimates they prevent up

to 3 million deaths per year

from diseases such as flu,

measles, and tetanus.

Most vaccines are delivered

by a shot or an injection,

but some are sprayed

in through the nose

or even swallowed.

And by the way, you might hear

the term “immunization.”

It means exactly the same thing

as vaccination.

Some of the candidates

for a COVID-19 vaccine

are using a new technology that

uses messenger RNA.

An mRNA vaccine contains

a synthetic version of the RNA

that viruses use to form


The vaccine doesn’t contain

enough genetic information

to produce viral proteins,

just enough to trick

the immune system into thinking

a virus is present so that it

will spring into action to make

those antibodies.


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