VACCINE TEAM: Is the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine a live vaccine?

With the one-year anniversary of N.C.’s first case, a new weapon in the arsenal to beat the pandemic.
Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 6:20 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As we hit the one-year anniversary of the first reported case of COVID-19 in North Carolina, the state just received another tool in its arsenal of weapons to end the COVID-19 pandemic. With this delivery, there is hope!

The vaccines do not require extremely cold temperatures for storage, and it takes only one shot.

Shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have arrived in North Carolina. As clinics start with the one-shot vaccine against the coronavirus, the Vaccine Team is answering your questions.

One viewer wanted to know if the latest vaccine available is a “live” vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the answer is no.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a “viral vector vaccine.” It uses a different method than both Moderna and Pfizer, which are mRNA vaccines.

The vaccine uses a very different method to get your body to start building antibodies to the coronavirus.

The CDC assures us the viral vector vaccines developed to fight COVID-19 cannot get you sick “with the coronavirus, or the virus used as the vaccine vector.”

The CDC has a great explanation of how this vector vaccine works and why it’s become an important piece in the nation’s toolbox to help end the pandemic.

From the CDC:

“Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells. For COVID-19 viral vector vaccines, the vector (not the virus that causes COVID-19, but a different, harmless virus) will enter a cell in our body and then use the cell’s machinery to produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. This piece is known as a spike protein, and it is only found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. The cell displays the spike protein on its surface, and our immune system recognizes it doesn’t belong there. This triggers our immune system to begin producing antibodies and activating other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection. At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect us against future infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. The benefit is that we get this protection from a vaccine without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19. Any temporary discomfort experienced after getting the vaccine is a natural part of the process and an indication that the vaccine is working.”

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