Vaccines train the body to fight viruses by helping our immune systems recognize them before we’re infected. For example, the current COVID-19 vaccines contain coronavirus genetic material, but not enough to actually give someone COVID-19. Instead, our cells encounter this genetic material, destroy it, and build new immune cells in response, which equips our bodies to fight against a potential coronavirus infection in the future. Other COVID-19 vaccines under development use slightly different methods, but the goal is the same—teaching your body how to recognize and destroy the coronavirus.
Keep in mind that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you won’t catch the virus or spread it to others. Although your immune system will be better equipped to fight off any symptoms and prevent disease, we still don’t know if vaccination will prevent you from spreading COVID-19. So, it will still be important to wear a mask and maintain social distancing until a vast majority of the population has been vaccinated.