Do COVID-19 Vaccines Disrupt the Immune Response?

Dr. Paul Offit discusses concerns about COVID-19 vaccines and the immune system.


Do COVID-19 vaccines disrupt the immune response?

Paul Offit, MD: Hi, my name's Paul Offit from the Vaccine Education Center. I think now that we have these two new vaccines, these novel vaccines, these so-called messenger RNA vaccines, which have never been used to make a commercial vaccine before, people have a variety of questions, concerns … you know, what do we know? Do we know enough? How much do we know?

One of the questions that’s come up is: Can these vaccines affect your immune system? Can it weaken your immune system? Can it perturb your immune system? Can it alter your immune system? Well, the way these vaccines work is it's just a fragment of messenger RNA, which we have in our cells all the time. Because the messenger RNA then of this vaccine enters your cells and then essentially is translated to a protein, in this case the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which sits on the surface of the cell. So, the cell makes this spike protein. While the cell is making the spike proteins, it's making a variety of other proteins using messenger RNA, none of which affect the immune system negatively; none of which sort of downregulate the immune system; none of which cause a perturbation of the immune system.

So, there is no reason to believe that these SARS-CoV-2 vaccines would do that. And there's certainly no evidence that it does that. In fact, quite the opposite, the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doesn't weaken the immune system, rather it strengthens the immune system because now finally, you have antibodies against this virus, which can cause severe and occasionally fatal infection.

Thank you.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center

Last Reviewed on Feb 10, 2021