Vaccination response: How mRNA vaccines differ from vector vaccines

While vaccinated people usually react more strongly to the first vaccination of a vector vaccine, a vaccination reaction occurs more frequently after the second vaccination with mRNA vaccination. You can read about the reasons for the different vaccination reactions here.

The  immune system  does not react in the same way to every vaccine, which is why the vaccination reactions differ between mRNA and vector vaccines.

Vaccination reaction: type of vaccine partly responsible

As a result of the corona vaccination, various vaccination reactions can occur. These usually last for a few days and then subside completely. Both types of vaccine commonly cause:

  • Pain and redness at the injection site
  • exhaustion
  • headache
  • Fever
  • chills
  • nausea
  • Muscle aches

With  mRNA vaccines  ,  vaccine reactions  usually occur after the  second dose  . This is due to the type of vaccine:

  • The mRNA (messenger RNA) transports the blueprint of part of the spike protein of  SARS-CoV-2 . The protein enables the virus to dock onto human cells.
  • The body recognizes the mRNA and begins to replicate the spike protein based on the blueprint. As a result, the immune system reacts to the foreign virus proteins – it produces antibodies and helper cells against SARS-CoV-2.
  • If you come into contact with the virus again, the defense system is already warned and can protect against infection. The mRNA vaccine is broken down in the body after a few days.

The body does not immediately recognize the vaccine as a foreign body because the body has to make the spike protein first and make antibodies against it. With the second vaccination, there is a stronger vaccination reaction, since antibodies have already been formed. Both the learned and the innate immune system react faster and stronger. As a result,  the immune response may be higher after the second dose.

With the  vector vaccine  , on the other hand, the information from the pathogen is contained in the shell of a harmless virus (vector), which acts as a messenger for the spike protein. Here, too, the body rebuilds the introduced spike protein and subsequently produces antibodies and helper cells. After the first vaccination, the immune system perceives the vector virus in particular as a foreign body and reacts to it.

With the second dose, the immune system intercepts the vector viruses before a new vaccination reaction is triggered. The result: the immune reaction can be stronger after the first vaccination.

Important:  The immune reaction says nothing about the number of antibodies after the corona vaccination.


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