Understanding COVID-19 vaccines in 25 minutes

Learn how vaccines are made and how they work. Review the concept of herd immunity and why it’s so important. Recognize the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy and why it matters and may enable the spread of disease.

Recently I started listening to podcasts from AXIOS, an online news source, and have especially enjoyed their coverage of science in general and specifically the COVID-19 pandemic.

They produced 5 short videos explaining the coronavirus vaccine that I found informative and want to share with you . Each is less than 5 minutes so in about 25 minutes you will learn much about the vaccine and hopefully be more confident in your decision to get vaccinated yourself, as I and my husband have been.

Here’s the intro from AXIOS and a link to the page where you can access all 5 videos. Below I have given you an outline so you know a little of what is in each episode, but I do recommend you listen to all of them in order. They are even appropriate for kids.

(The cover photo is a scanning electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 (orange)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIH)

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Vaccines: A short course from Axios

Vaccines have been used for centuries to fight disease but hesitancy and disinformation about them are spreading, jeopardizing the global fight against measles, COVID-19 and other diseases.

Axios’ science and health journalists will help you understand vaccines — how they work, how they’re tested and distributed, and where vaccine technology is headed.

illustration showing the coronavirus which causes COVID-19
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. In this view, the protein particles E, S, and M, also located on the outer surface of the particle, have all been labeled as well. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS, public domain

1. Vaccine basics

Learn how vaccines are made and how they work. Understand the immune system-T cells and antibodies.

Review the concept of herd immunity and why it’s so important.

These patients’ samples were to be tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) serologic test. CDC/ James Gathany, PUBLIC DOMAIN

2. Study and testing of vaccines

Find out why the research and development of vaccines costs $100 of millions. See the 3 phases of the process and why this one progressed faster than ever before.

President Joe Biden visited NIH on February 11, 2020, where he met with leading researchers at the Vaccine Research Center to learn more about the groundbreaking fundamental research that enabled the development of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.Credit: NIH/Chiachi Chang; PUBLIC DOMAIN

3. Distribution of vaccines

Understand why vaccine distribution differs from other drugs-including the manufacturing, selling, buying, and transporting.

In this 2020 photograph, captured inside a clinical setting, a health care provider places a bandage on the injection site of a patient, who just received an influenza vaccine. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6-months of age and older get a flu vaccine every season. CDC/ Robert Denty, public domain

4. Misinformation about vaccines

Recognize the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy and why it matters and may enable the spread of disease.

5. Next generation vaccines

Explore how scientists are using the power of genetics to create new and better vaccines. Appreciate why vaccines can change our approach to disease prevention.

DNA Double Helix

Credit: National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health. Please link to www.genome.gov when possible. PUBLIC DOMAIN

Exploring the HEART of ending the COVID-19 pandemic

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

Dr. Aletha

Dr. Aletha inspecting her arm after a COVID-19 shot
Three days after my first vaccination the soreness in my arm was almost gone, and I had no redness or swelling. After the second shot, minimal soreness. No other side effects to report. I feel fortunate.

7 resources for responsible sharing on social media

In this time of social distancing, the digital world can be a valuable source of connection if used responsibly. Thank you for joining me .

In another post I shared 9 strategies for responsible social media posting and sharing. Here are the online resources that I used and some others for you to check out.

Take A Seat — Chuck Sigars

Mr. Sigars blog post isn’t so much about how but about why it’s important to post responsibly. I include it here because the situation he describes was part of what prompted me to address this problem. He wrote,

we end up living in a world in which casual truth and lies exist in the same moment and we’re too overwhelmed and busy to figure it out. We believe what we want, and disbelieve the rest, and now that I think about it, this is exactly the world we live in. Never mind.

man looking at a phone screen
4 Tips for Spotting a Fake News Story
One tip is-

Pay attention to quality and timeliness.

Social Media Tips – Viswanath Lab

Be the weak link-you may be unknowingly contributing to the spread of false information forwarding anything and everything you receive.

THINK before you post or share.
graphical depiction of electronic devices, paper, pencil, Bible, coffee mug
How to Avoid Falling for Urban Legends, Rumors, and Conspiracy Theories

Why would we believe unfounded and sensational claims and theories about people and events that could be easily explained otherwise?

They help us make sense of and manage threats. Most pieces of misinformation address things we fear (diseases, kidnapping, murder, mysterious creatures, crime, etc.). We often don’t fully understand these threats, so we use misinformation to make sense of them and to cope with our fears.

5 ways to spot disinformation on your social media feeds

Remember that the creators of disinformation purposely make content that is designed to trigger an emotional response,

so if you find yourself having those reactions, please pause and consider the questions listed in the article.
The Simplest Way to Spot Coronavirus Misinformation on Social Media |

The SIFT method described by this digital literacy expert can be used with any information, not just about coronavirus-Stop, Investigate, Find, Trace.

hands keyboarding
Tips & Tools – Media Literacy & Misinformation – LibGuides at Monmouth University

Manmouth University sponsors this website dedicated to Media Literacy . The site offers advice on

  • how to choose a news source
  • how to fact check
  • how to image check
  • how to check your own bias
  • how misinformation spreads
  • how to evaluate sources
  • conspiracy theories

“The problem is not that some people might believe something that’s not true. The problem is that most people might stop caring if anything is true.”

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Director, University of Virginia Center for Media & Citizenship 

Try these tips now while reading-

Microchips in our vaccines?

Use these resources to evaluate this blog post by Dr. Gretchen LaSalle. Whatever you already think about vaccines, microchips, and Bill Gates, identify your own bias, then objectively consider what she says. Fact check her references, think critically, consider all sides, identify your emotional reaction.

And if you choose to share the post, consider using the strategies I suggested in my previous post.

Use these 9 strategies to share responsibly on social media

People use fear to motivate and manipulate. Using phrases like “they don’t want you to see this”, “share before they remove it ”, and words like racist, fascist, communist, conspiracy, censored, socialist, control, right, left, etc. imply an urgency that usually isn’t realistic or rational. Sharing verifiable information allows your friends to draw their own conclusions based on fact not fear.

But if we have learned anything in the Internet Era, it is this… We can’t always believe what we read. Even legitimate news outlets get it wrong sometimes and people have agendas which can color how they report “the news”. Yes, it’s frustrating. Yes, it’s time consuming. But we HAVE to do the work of researching these claims to make sure we are not part of the problem in spreading falsehoods and misinformation.

Gretchen LaSalle, M.D.

exploring the HEART of health on social media

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

I appreciate your commitment for making social media a safer, more valuable, and healthier place to connect and share what we know and what we feel. In this time of social distancing, the digital world can be a valuable source of connection if used responsibly. Thank you for joining me .

Dr. Aletha