What Happens To Your Body When You Take The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

If you're feeling anything like we are, then you're super excited to finally get your vaccination against COVID-19 — whether the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine or another one. After all, the pandemic completely upended and disrupted so many of our lives. Time during the pandemic became elastic, as we were confined to our homes for days on end wondering what to do with ourselves. Perhaps you finally learned how to bake bread from scratch or became a puzzle master while in quarantine? Or maybe you finally learned how to play the guitar

Regardless of any silver linings, it's been a long time in lockdown, and we're ready to go out. Well, thanks to science, we now have several COVID-19 vaccines available to us, including the dose manufactured by Moderna. And while this is extremely exciting news for those of us who've been in yoga pants for far too long, there are a ton of questions you probably have about the Moderna shot. Fear not — we did the research, and we have all the details you need about the pharmaceutical juggernaut's shot. So keep reading to find out what happens to your body when you take the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

You'll be immunized against COVID-19 if you get the Moderna vaccine

The whole point of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is that it helps your body build immunity against COVID-19, as noted by the CDC. But how exactly does it work? It starts with the mRNA in the shot, which is basically a guide for your body's cells; it teaches them how to make a "spike protein," which is what the coronavirus uses to infect you. "Once inside the cell, the mRNA from the vaccine is taken up by your ribosomes and translated into many copies of the spike protein," Dr. Bethany Moore, a professor of internal medicine, explained to Michigan Health. After that, your cells dissolve the mRNA and the spike protein "is released from the cell."

After that, Moore says the immune system responds further. "Dendritic cells are patrolling and will come in contact with the antigen that they haven't seen before and raise the alarm, travel to a lymph node, find the right T and B cells and activate them," she continued. And then, the hope is that those cells start creating antibodies, eventually rendering you immune to COVID-19.

Your mental health may improve after receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

If you experienced increased anxiety, depression, or hopelessness during the coronavirus pandemic, you're most definitely not alone. According to Stanford University, we were all more susceptible to mental health issues during that time, thanks to a lockdown that completely upended our lives, often for the worse.

Fortunately, there's a bright, shining light at the end of the tunnel, according to psychiatrist Dr. Manish Sapra. "The arrival of the COVID vaccine was a critical step in the healing process for every single one of us," he penned in an article for Northwell Health. "While it will take weeks for full protection to take effect, and with herd immunity still far off, there is one immediate effect that everyone can and should grasp on to now — hope." Thanks, Moderna!

We're talking about real, concrete, and serious hope that things are on the precipice of changing. "Rather than just a wish, hope is a belief that things will get better," Sapra continued. "The vaccine enables all of us to believe firmly that we're going to get out of this, and that recovery is real." Excuse us while we cry tears of relief.

These are the most common side effects of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

Chances are you've probably heard people taking about how they react to the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19. So what exactly can you personally expect? According to vaccine expert Dr. Katie Passaretti, it's probably not as bad as you may imagine. "I felt fine after the shot but I did get tired later in the day, and I think just typically when you get a shot, your arm gets sore," she shared, as reported by WBTV. "I just thought it was a little bit longer than when I get a normal shot." We can live with that.

Given Passaretti's personal experience, which is pretty run of the mill, you can prepare for pretty much the same thing. "The most common side effects are pain at the site of injection," she continued. "With all of the vaccines, especially with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, you can feel fatigued, have low-grade fevers, feel a little achy and a little run down." Nothing a nap and some time won't mitigate!

What are the other side effects of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?

Have you ever seen an advertisement on television for some kind of medication? You know, the commercials in which the narrator lists off an absurdly long list of scary-sounding side effects? Don't worry — it's not like that for Moderna's vaccine against COVID-19, thankfully.

According to the CDC, in addition to a sore arm, fever, and lethargy, there are a few other potential side effects you may experience after your shot; you may experience a headache, chills, nausea, and aches and pains in your muscles. Fortunately, the CDC also has a few tips for managing those undesirable side effects, too. If your arm is sore, put a washcloth soaked in cold water at the injection site. Also, be sure to move your arm in order to help make the pain recede. Additionally, if you have a fever, don't dress heavily, and make sure you're drinking lots of fluids like water. That can help your body kick out the fever sooner rather than later.

And just to set the record straight, no, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doesn't have a tracking chip, won't cause a miscarriage, and won't alter your DNA (via the Mayo Clinic).

Why do you need to get two Moderna COVID-19 vaccines?

One thing that you may be seriously curious about is why you need two shots of the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19, four weeks apart. Well, in order to help your body create the strongest immunity possible, that second dose is needed to supplement the first. Be mindful, though, that you might feel worse after your second shot than you did your first. "Because you already have antibodies on-board from the first dose, you're going to get a little bit more robust immune response the second time," Dr. Bethany Moore, a professor of internal medicine, revealed in an interview with Michigan Health. "At the same time, you are boosting the immune response to be bigger, better, and faster and really locking in the memory of it."

While you may be tempted to skip your second shot due to the crappy side effects, don't do it! For as unpleasant as that immune response is, that means your body is working to build an amazing defense against a seriously nasty virus that's killed millions of people. Trust us, it's worth the pain.

Should you take NSAIDs after getting the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?

Speaking of unpleasant side effects and ways to manage them, can you take NSAIDs after receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine? While you may not feel like you need to after the first dose, for some, that second shot really can be a doozy. To that end, is it safe to take pain relievers like ibuprofen (like Motrin), acetaminophen (like Tylenol), or naproxen (like Aleve)?

The short answer is yes, you can take NSAIDs after you get the Moderna vaccine, as noted by The New York Times. According to vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit, there's no harm in taking a pain reliever if you really need to, but "don't take it" for a preventative reason or if you can get by without it.

You'll want to avoid taking NSAIDs before your shot, as there's a chance that might blunt the immune response. However, don't stress too much if you already did, says Dr. Offit. "You should feel reassured that you'll have enough of an immune response that you'll be protected, especially for vaccines that are this good," he noted.

There's a chance you won't experience any side effects after receiving the Moderna vaccine

For all of the chatter about how bad the side effects of the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 are — especially the second dose — there are indeed some folks who won't experience any of them. And while that certainly sounds pleasant, does it mean the vaccine didn't work for you? 

According to immunologist Dr. Bali Pulendran, the answer to that question is no, and he explained why using a metaphor. "The primary vaccination taught the easy stuff to the immune system, like in primary school," he explained in a chat with Pioneer Press. He went on, "Does that mean that the primary school education wasn't really an education, because it didn't really cause you pain? No."

Pulendran went on to compare the second dose to secondary school. "It got into calculus and physics," he continued. "But still, the immune system went through it, and that was really great." Pulendran added that, in a nutshell, "you had the full education. That's exactly how vaccines work." So fear not if your vaccination process was a breeze, and consider yourself lucky.

This is why you have to wait 15 minutes after you take the Moderna vaccine

If you've already received your Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you know that after you take the shot, you have to wait for 15 to 30 minutes before you're allowed to leave. Curious as to why that is? Well, so were we.

According to the CDC, there's a small chance that you might have an anaphylactic reaction to the coronavirus vaccine. That's the same kind of reaction that people who are allergic to bees have when they're stung by one, as noted by Healthline. Symptoms include everything from hives and nausea to confusion and loss of consciousness — and even death. No wonder health professionals keep a close eye on people post-vaccine!

Fear not, however, as this kind of reaction can be treated effectively with an EpiPen, and all vaccination sites are required to have the proper supplies on hand. You're in good hands.

Does sex impact how you respond to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?

This one might surprise you, but your reaction the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 can vary due to your gender. According to The New York Times, women are more likely than men to report and experience side effects of the coronavirus immunization. This is the case for other vaccines as well, including the flu shot, the MMR vaccine, and hepatitis vaccines.

The reasons for this go beyond women being better communicators than men, too. For one, estrogen provokes an immune response post-vaccination, whereas testosterone has the opposite effect. Additionally, a large portion of the genes associated with immunity are on the X chromosome, and most women have two of them; the majority of men only have one. That's also why we're more susceptible to autoimmune disease!

Women are also far more likely than men to have an anaphylactic response to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, too. In fact, almost all of those occurrences happened in women. Can we get equal pay yet?

If you're allergic to other vaccines, don't get the Moderna vaccine

In order for us to achieve herd immunity, a significantly large portion of the population has to be vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic. Only then will things really start getting back to normal, though what our new normal will truly look like remains to be seen. 

To that end, it's important for as many adults to get vaccinated as possible, which will in turn protect those who can't receive the Moderna (or any other) vaccine against COVID-19. That includes people who are allergic to any of the ingredients in the coronavirus immunization, as noted by the Cleveland Clinic. But if you just have garden variety allergies like to pollen or pet dander, you'll probably be fine taking the COVID-19 shot. Of course, if you're not sure, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor. They will know what's best for you.

If you've had COVID-19, you may react more strongly to the Moderna vaccine

One big question that COVID-19 survivors may have is whether or not they should get the coronavirus immunization, including the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. After all, if you've already been sick, don't you have the antibodies to protect yourself against a subsequent infection?

Well, it's complicated. According to the CDC, you should still get a COVID-19 vaccination if you've already had the coronavirus. Why? We still don't know how long the immunity acquired from a COVID-19 infection lasts, and the vaccines have all proven to be effective. Why not get all the protection you can, right?

The only bad news is that COVID-19 survivors may have stronger immune responses from coronavirus immunizations, as noted by The New York Times. And if you have an exceptionally strong response to the first shot, that could be an indicator that you had COVID-19 and didn't know it at the time. So schedule a few days off from work if you need it, as you might find yourself pretty wiped out.

No, you won't get COVID-19 from the Moderna vaccine

One of the biggest questions that concerned folks might be wondering is this: do the coronavirus vaccines, including Modern's offering, actually give you COVID-19? It's not an unreasonable assumption, given that the vaccines have a dead form of the COVID-19 germ in them. That's how they help to build immunity.

However, this is one of the biggest myths out there about all of the COVID-19 immunizations. According to the CDC, none of the vaccines available can give you a case of coronavirus, so put you fears about that to rest. As we've established, you may feel sick after getting vaccinated, but that immune response is vastly different than a severe case of COVID-19.

Bear in mind that you aren't fully protected from COVID-19 until two weeks after receiving your second shot of Moderna's vaccine. So, as noted by the Mayo Clinic, it's possible that you can catch coronavirus just before or just after getting your shot.

How does the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine stack up against the others?

By now, you're probably aware that there are three different COVID-19 vaccines on the U.S. market: Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. So how does Moderna's shot stack up against the other two? Is it the best one that you can get? According to STAT, the Moderna vaccine was proven to be 94.1 percent effective at protecting your body from the coronavirus. That's pretty close to the 95 percent that the Pfizer vaccine accomplished, and the 66 percent efficacy (for moderate to severe cases of coronavirus) of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Pretty heartening numbers all around!

Bear in mind, however, that it's not like you can pick and choose what brand of the COVID-19 vaccine you'll receive. Essentially, you'll be presented with what's available depending on where you are, so you'd be best to just accept whatever option you get. That brings you one step closer to safe Sunday brunches and visits to your favorite bar.

Will you need another dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the future?

If you've been lucky enough to get your first or even second shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you're no doubt full of hope that things are finally getting better. But you also might be wondering how long this round of shots will be effective. While there's not a ton of data out there yet, infectious disease expert Joel Ernst has an idea. "Right now it looks like the 'half life' of the antibodies after vaccination are at least a year, and probably longer than that," he explained in a chat with Pioneer Press. That's good news for everyone!

It's also possible that you'll need subsequent doses of Moderna's coronavirus immunization, as noted by Ernst. "If needed, vaccine 'boosters' could help in two ways," he continued. "They can recharge the immune response against the original virus. They can also help fend off a new viral variant that could render existing vaccines ineffective." While we don't know whether or not we'll need boosters down the road, we're loving that light at the end of the tunnel.