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This COVID-19 vaccine is from the drug company Moderna. It was the second to be authorized for emergency use in the United States. FROM TOP: CAROLINE CLAFTIN FOR THE HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE; WILLIAM CAMPBELL—GETTY IMAGES

Dr. Ingrid Katz works at the Harvard Global Health Institute. She specializes in infectious diseases. TFK spoke with her about the new COVID-19 vaccines.

TFK: What is a vaccine?

Katz: A vaccine is a medication. You get an injection. The medication sends messages to your body’s immune system. It lets the immune system know that there is an invader.

TFK: Can you tell us about the COVID-19 vaccines?

Katz: Coronaviruses have been around for a long time. But this strain of the virus is new, so none of us has immunity built into our system. The vaccine lets us build that immunity without our getting sick.

TFK: Why don’t kids need to get the COVID-19 vaccine right now?

Katz: COVID-19 is much more of a problem for adults, especially older adults. In general, children are much less likely to get sick from it.

TFK: Is there anything else you want readers to know?

Katz: There is enthusiasm about the vaccine. But we have other ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing and wearing a mask are also really effective.

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