The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was developed by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and Moderna (an American pharmaceutical and biotechnology company).
It was the third COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. The decision was made with advice from the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), the government’s independent expert scientific advisory body.
8 January 2021
How does the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine work in the body when taken?
The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine jabs are known as a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. It uses synthetically produced genetic material called mRNA, which encodes the instructions to produce the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) spike protein (the part of the virus that allows it to enter human cells).
The injection inserts this mRNA into the body. This then enters cells, which read the genetic code and start producing the virus protein – thus triggering a response by the immune system and coaching it to fight a future infection.
The mRNA molecule is not injected directly into the body, but is wrapped in oily bubbles made of lipid nanoparticles, to prevent our natural enzymes from breaking it down.
The jab uses mRNA produced in the lab by a template DNA, and doesn’t use a virus, unlike conventional vaccines which are produced using weakened forms of the virus. This can make the rate at which it can be produced or modified dramatically accelerated.
What are the ingredients of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?
This vaccine contains polyethylene glycol/macrogol (PEG) as part of PEG2000-DMG.
The other ingredients are:
Water for injections
Sodium acetate trihydrate
Trometamol hydrochloride (Tris HCl)
1,2-Dimyristoyl-rac-glycero-3-methoxypolyethylene glycol-2000 (PEG2000-DMG)
How is the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine administered?
The vaccine is only being administered to people in a safe health care environment with facilities to treat allergic reactions if they do occur. Do not take the vaccine from anyone else. If offered by anyone, and you are in doubt, contact your GP.
This vaccine is injected into a muscle in your upper arm.
It will be given to you as two 0.5 mL injections. It is recommended to administer the second dose 28 days after the first.
When the Moderna vaccine is given for the first injection, the same vaccine should be given for the second injection to complete the vaccination course.
During and after each injection of the vaccine, your doctor, pharmacist or nurse will watch over you for around 15 minutes to monitor for signs of an allergic reaction.
Are there any possible risks and/or side effects of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?
Nothing in medicine comes without risks – even something we take without thinking, like paracetamol, may pose a risk.
Like all medicines, this vaccine can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them. Most side effects go away within a few days of appearing. If side effects such as pain and/or fever are troublesome, they can be treated by medicines for pain and fever such as paracetamol.
You may very rarely experience a severe allergic reaction after receiving this vaccine. Signs of an allergic reaction may include itchy skin rash, shortness of breath and swelling of the face or tongue. Contact your doctor or healthcare professional immediately or go to the nearest hospital emergency department right away if you have an allergic reaction. It can be life-threatening.
Side effects can include:
Very common (may affect more than 1 in 10 people)
Pain or swelling at the injection site
Muscle ache, joint swelling and stiffness
Tenderness and swelling of the underarm glands on the same side as the injection site
Common (may affect up to 1 in 10 people)
Rash, redness, or hives at the injection site
Uncommon (may affect up to 1 in 100 people)
Itchiness at the injection site
Rare (may affect up to 1 in 1000 people)
Temporary one-sided facial drooping (Bell’s palsy)
Swelling of the face (Swelling of the face may occur in patients who have had facial cosmetic injections)
Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)
Warnings and Precautions
Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse before you are given this vaccine if you:
Have any allergies. If you have experienced a severe allergic reaction after the first dose of this vaccine, you should not receive a second dose.
Have a very weak or compromised immune system, for example, due to HIV infection, or you are taking a medicine that affects your immune system.
Have a bleeding problem, bruise easily or use a medicine to inhibit blood clotting.
Have a high fever or severe infection. However, a mild fever or upper airway infection, like a cold, are not reasons to delay vaccination.
Have any serious illness.
Do NOT take the vaccine if
you are allergic to the active substance or any of the other ingredients of this vaccine