No, the vaccine will not change your DNA!

No, the new mRNA vaccines will not change your DNA. The two vaccines that are FDA-authorized use mRNA to help our bodies create an immune response against COVID-19.

What’s the difference between DNA and mRNA?

DNA and messenger RNA, also known as mRNA, are both types of genetic material. DNA is found in the nucleus of nearly all of the cells in your body. mRNA carries the instructions from the DNA out of the nucleus to the part of the cell where proteins are made. Think of the DNA as central headquarters and mRNA as messengers who carry instructions to the factories that will make the proteins. 

So how does the mRNA vaccine work?

The mRNA vaccine tells your immune cells how to make a harmless piece of what’s called the spike protein, which is a part of the virus that causes COVID-19. Our immune systems are much better at fighting a virus if they’ve seen it before. By making your immune system familiar with the spike protein it learns to recognize the coronavirus. 

The mRNA delivered by the vaccine never gets into the nucleus, where your DNA is. Also, mRNA is fragile and degrades after a few days; it doesn’t stick around in your body. Though some viruses can alter DNA, the vaccine doesn’t contain any virus at all. So there’s no way that the mRNA vaccine can change your DNA.

Last update: December 22, 2020, 12:01 pm ET

Science review: ERS, JAB