“A good message will always find a messenger.”
Amelia Barr (1831 – 1919)
In speaking with my dear friend, Anna, yesterday, it was made clear to me that there is some fear and anxiety about the mRNA vaccine for CoVid-19, so I was inspired to write to you about it.
May I share a good message about Messenger RNA?
As nurses, we know that vaccines prevent morbidity & mortality. When was the last time you cared for a smallpox patient or a child with polio? Have you had a houseful of keiki sick and scratching their chickenpox or flat on their backs with mumps , lately?
Nope you haven’t – because small pox and polio are banished and viral examthems are greatly reduced!!! So much so that many nurses have never seen a patient with mumps or rubella. I am grateful!
The conventional vaccines that eradicated these viral diseases include live attenuated, inactivated, & subunit vaccines that provide durable protection. As you know, conventional vaccines are inadequate in preventing illness from new pathogens that are able to evade the immune response, like Zika and HIV. Another huge issue is the time it takes to develop and implement a conventional vaccine. Rapid development & large-scale deployment are just not possible with conventional vaccines – that’s why the flu shot we get every year doesn’t necessarily target the current strain. Technology has provided a solution to a life-threatening pandemic that has already killed 500,000 Americans and another 2,000,000 around the world – mRNA Vaccines. It seems to me that this change in technology is what has people put-off, made them reluctant and plain, old scared.
So, let’s look at mRNA vaccines. They are non-infectious, meaning that you cannot acquire a disease from an mRNA vaccine like you can from a conventional one. They are non- integrating, meaning they do not get involved in human genetic material at all! Instead,they act as a “wanted poster” advertising the virus’ spike for elimination by the immune system. mRNA vaccines do not contain additives or preservatives that can set up an allergic response, so they can be administered repeatedly without fear of adverse effect.
The current vaccine produced by Pfizer been demonstrated effective against the new CoVid-19 mutant viruses, known as “variants” from Britain and South Africa. This is great news! It is also important to remember that viruses cannot mutate unless they reproduce. Our goal is to halt virus reproduction and thereby eliminate the risk of mutation and disease.
In addition to mRNA vaccines, there are other RNA therapies in development. These target proteins that cause disease by using a molecule known as an mRNA aptamer. The molecule is designed to bind to a specific site on a specific protein to modulate its function. Researchers are currently exploring whether aptamers can be used in protein-replacement therapies for conditions that involve abnormal proteins, like hemophilia – or even diabetes! (Remember, insulin is a protein.) However, this strategy is different from the immunization strategy which is totally non-integrating, meaning it does not engage with our DNA and has no potential insertional mutagenesis.
I provide this information in an attempt to dispel fear of a very good thing! Nurses need to be knowledgeable and share our knowledge with others!
Mahalo nui for all you do!
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