How were the vaccines developed and how do they work?
Developing a vaccine and bringing it to our communities often takes many years. But, because of work that the National Institute of Health (NIH) was already doing when the COVID-19 pandemic began, researchers were able to come up with vaccines for this new virus much faster.
Years before the COVID-19 pandemic began, experts at the NIH Vaccine Research Center (VRC) were studying coronaviruses to find out how to protect against them. The scientists chose to focus on one “prototype” coronavirus and create a vaccine for it. That vaccine could then be customized to fight different coronaviruses. It was important that this vaccine be three things:
- Fast. If a pandemic began — like the COVID-19 pandemic did in late 2019 — researchers would need to be able to adapt the vaccine and produce a lot of doses very quickly.
- Reliable. The vaccine had to be extremely effective in humans.
- Universal. The vaccine would have to work for many different coronaviruses, since it is not always possible to predict which viruses will spread quickly or become dangerous.
The best COVID-19 vaccine is the first one that is available to you. Do not wait for a specific brand. All currently authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines:
The CDC does not recommend one vaccine over another.