How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
Vaccines are treatments that are designed to help our immune systems fight off specific germs that cause diseases. They generally contain weakened or inactive parts of a pathogen known as antigens, and are designed to trigger an immune response within the body. This allows our bodies to be prepared and mount a quicker and more effective immune response, should the same germs try to invade our bodies.
Vaccines are highly important in promoting herd immunity, which is the concept that with sufficient immunisation in a population, outbreaks of a disease gradually diminish until the bacteria or virus has no more opportunity to spread and essentially die out. All Singaporean children are required to get a variety of vaccinations from young for numerous conditions such as polio, Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, as well as measles, mumps, and rubella.
The most used COVID-19 vaccines in Singapore are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Sinovac-CoronaVac. Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines, while Sinovac uses an inactivated COVID-19 virus instead. The mRNA vaccines work by introducing mRNA, also known as messenger RNA, into our bodies. There, it instructs our bodies’ cells to produce a harmless spike protein found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. This allows our immune system to be triggered and produce antibodies to facilitate protection against COVID-19 infection.
In contrast, Sinovac works by introducing harmless inactivated COVID-19 into our systems. This has been the traditional nature of vaccines for almost a century, with common examples including flu vaccines and the HPV vaccine. Upon injecting the Sinovac vaccine, your immune system will start synthesising antibodies to defend you against subsequent infection.
Why should my child learn about human biology?
As part of the Singapore biology curriculum, students are introduced to concepts in human biology starting from secondary school. JC biology further enhances it through extensive learning about microbiology, such as various essential biomolecules, cellular processes, as well as DNA and replication. This allows them to have a greater understanding of COVID-19, how vaccines work, as well as concepts such as understanding the differing efficacy of vaccines and why mask wearing is important.
In turn, this helps our children to make more informed decisions regarding COVID-19, protecting both their own safety and that of their loved ones. They can also use their knowledge of biology and vaccines to explain how they work to older family members, who may not be as aware of the benefits that vaccines bring and are generally more resistant to being fully vaccinated.
Beyond paving the way for future careers in fields such as medicine and pharmaceutics, biology has numerous applications in your child’s daily life. For example, the information that students learn about molecules and the human body can help them in diverse ways, such as choosing more nutritious foods to promote their health as well as understanding how their bodies move in fields such as sports to dance. It also helps them stay curious and interested about natural processes in our world, empowering them to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Looking to enroll your child for H2 biology tuition in Singapore? Get in touch with us to find out about our timetables and classes, and arrange for a free trial class for your child today!
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