Answering your COVID questions: 'Should I worry about mRNA in a vaccine?'

Posted at 7:47 PM, Feb 10, 2021

As more COVID-19 vaccines become available, many in the Tri-State have asked us how they work, and if they have any long-term effects.

WCPO viewer Glenn Ogle asks on Facebook: “What is the long-term impact on people when vaccines are using mRNA that mutate our cells permanently?”

Dr. Steve Feagins, chief clinical officer at Mercy Health and medical director of Hamilton County Public Health, said mRNA in a vaccine has no long-term impact at all.

“The mRNA is used as quickly as it converts to protein. No residual. No mRNA -- used almost immediately, no residual effect. It's used as quickly as it enters the cell,” he said.

Feagins explained that mRNA, or messenger RNA, acts a lot like a blueprint.

“Lipid capsule enters cell, opens up, and then the mRNA stimulates the cell to produce antibody as if it were seeing COVID,” Feagins explained. “The antibodies produce, and the MRNA never leaves the cell -- never goes anywhere -- and essentially becomes amino acids, building blocks of proteins.”

In short, Feagins said, people who get a vaccine don't have to worry about the long-term effects of mRNA.

“That is probably the least thing you have to worry about. No long-term effects from the moleculary vaccine,” he said.

This month, WCPO 9 is taking your questions about COVID-19 vaccines and posing them to local health care experts. Email or message @KristynHartmanWCPO on Facebook with your name, neighborhood and question, and you could see an expert answer it on air.