Kern Sol News breaks down COVID-19 vaccines

January 29, 2021 /

In Kern County, the COVID-19 vaccine is being administered those residents who are 65 and older and those who fall in prioritized groups in phase 1A of the state’s vaccination plan.

Last month, the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were issued emergency authorized. Emergency authorization does not equate FDA-approval. FDA-approval is expected in the near future. 

As both vaccines become readily available to more members of the public, it is important to understand how the vaccine works against the COVID-19 virus to make an educated decision to take the vaccine. It is important to note that neither the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine contain a live Covid-19 virus. 

Here is a table that has key information about both vaccines.

Pfizer & BioNTech vaccine:Moderna Vaccine:
mRNA vaccine mRNA vaccine 
2 shots administered in upper arm, each given 28 days apart 2 shots administered in upper arm, each 21 days apart 
95% effective 94.1% effective
Minimum age requirement: 16Minimum age requirement: 18
Must be stored in -70 degrees CelsiusMust be stored in -20 degrees Celsius

According to the National Institute of Health, the vaccine works by the mRNa providing human cells direct instructions to make the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, that is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. This spike protein is crucial in penetrating human cells and allowing the first steps of infection. 

The spike protein made from the mRNA contained in the vaccine is then released from the healthy cell. Although the spike protein itself is not harmful, the immune system perceives the foreign protein as a threat and will attack the spike proteins with antibodies. 

Without the spike protein on the cell of the virus, it can no longer penetrate healthy cells.

The basis of the vaccine relies on T-lymphocytes, known as memory cells, to recognize the spike protein again if the body became infected with the COVID-19 virus, thus providing protection to COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, “It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.” It is recommended to still follow CDC guidelines, such as social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands frequently when receiving the vaccination. 

For a list of providers that provide COVID-19 vaccinations in Kern, please visit: