EMS bulletin takes close look at COVID-19 vaccines that Maine is deploying

Fri, 12/18/2020 - 9:00pm

    A bulletin issued by healthcare professionals that govern Maine EMS and first responder protocols contains some, “valuable and trusted information in it regarding the vaccines that Maine will be seeing,” said Rockland Police Chief Chris Whytock.

    The bulletin (see attached PDF for the full document) is an tutorial on the nuts and bolts of both vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — how they were developed, how they work in the human body, how they must be stored, and their logistical handling issues. The bulletin also illustrates other types of coronavirus vaccines and their mechanisms of action.

    “If you get sick, even with an asymptomatic illness, you also may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you while you are sick. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness,” the bulletin said.

    About the RNA vaccines, of which Moderna and Pfizer the bulletin said:

    “mRNA vaccines were initially developed in the 1990s. The mRNA used in these vaccines is wrapped in a lipid nanoparticle that maintains the mRNA stability. The wrapped mRNA enters a cell and is then picked up by cellular ribosomes. Ribosomes are outside of the cell’s nucleus and therefore distant from the cell’s DNA.

    “This technology provides our ribosomes with mRNA instructions for making the SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) spike protein. When our cells receive these instructions, they briefly produce the spike protein. Our immune system recognizes the spike protein as "foreign" and makes antibodies to destroy it. If we get infected with the real virus, our immune system recognizes the threat and is already prepared to fight it.

    “mRNA is very short-lived, does not enter the cell nucleus and has no direct interaction with a patient’s DNA. In fact, cold storage is required to keep the mRNA stable enough to be effective before it rapidly degrades. This vaccine technology WILL NOT alter your DNA or genetic code. There are a number of mRNA vaccines currently being studied, including a Zika vaccine, a CMV vaccine and some of the influenza and rabies vaccines. Experience from these vaccines proves both the safety and efficacy of this technology.”

    For more information on the mRNA technology, please refer to the CDC’s website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different- vaccines/mrna.html.