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Types of vaccines for COVID-19

On this page, you will find infographics to explain how different types of vaccines work, including the Moderna vaccine, the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Scroll down to discover more, click the download link to print the graphic or share on social media tagging @britsocimm to help strengthen public understanding.

As the UK COVID-19 vaccine approval and roll out continues to evolve, these infographics will be updated. They are accurate as of April 2021. 

Vaccines train your immune system using a harmless form of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. Vaccines stimulate an immune response without causing illness. Each type of vaccine for COVID-19 works differently to introduce antigens, which are unique features of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, to your body. The antigen triggers a specific immune response and this response builds immune memory, so your body can fight off SARS-CoV-2 in future. 


Viral vector vaccines for COVID-19

The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine uses this technology to protect against COVID-19. This type of vaccine uses an unrelated harmless virus (the viral vector) to deliver SARS-CoV-2 genetic material. When administered, our cells use the genetic material to produce a specific viral protein, which is recognised by our immune system and triggers a response. This response builds immune memory, so your body can fight off the virus in future.

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Genetic vaccines for COVID-19

The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines use this type of technology to train the immune system. The vaccines contains a segment of genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. The genetic material, RNA in the case of Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, codes for a specific viral protein. When administered, your cells use the genetic material from the vaccines to make the protein, which is recognised by your immune system and triggers a specific response. This response builds immune memory, so your body can fight off SARS-CoV-2 in future.

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Inactivated vaccines for COVID-19

This type of vaccine contains the killed SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is recognised by the immune system to trigger a response without causing COVID-19 illness. This response builds immune memory, so your body can fight off SARS-CoV-2 in future.

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Attenuated vaccines for COVID-19

This type of vaccine contains the weakened SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is recognised by the immune system to trigger a response without causing COVID-19 illness. This response builds immune memory, so your body can fight off SARS-CoV-2 in future.

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Protein vaccines for COVID-19

This type of vaccine contains proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which are recognised by the immune system to trigger a response. This response builds immune memory, so your body can fight off SARS-CoV-2 in future.

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If you are interested in translating these resources into another language, please email bsi@immunology.org. Please do not translate these resources without our permission