My MedlinePlus Weekly Newsletter: Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines

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My MedlinePlus

December 9, 2020

drawing vaccine from vial

Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines

Within the next month, messenger RNA vaccines—also called mRNA vaccines—are likely to be some of the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies. Get the facts about COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.


Combat COVID

Combat COVID is a new website that makes it easy to find information about different stages of COVID-19 illness, NIH-supported COVID-19 prevention and treatment clinical trials, and locations to donate plasma. Find information for:

  • People who have never had COVID-19 who may be interested in joining a vaccine or other prevention trial
  • People who have COVID-19 and want to participate in a treatment clinical trial
  • People who have recovered from COVID-19 who may be interested in donating plasma
  • Doctors and other healthcare providers who want more information to guide their patients who have COVID-19


Childhood Absence Epilepsy

Childhood absence epilepsy is a genetic condition characterized by recurrent seizures (epilepsy). The condition begins in childhood and usually affects children between ages 3 and 8. Absence seizures (also known as petit mal seizures) are brief episodes of impaired consciousness that look like staring spells. During seizures, children are not aware of and do not respond to people or activities around them. The seizures usually last several seconds and they occur often, up to 200 times each day. Learn more about childhood absence epilepsy, epilepsy, and seizures.


The Science Behind Handwashing

Handwashing is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Frequent handwashing can help prevent the spread of a number of different illnesses including:

  • COVID-19
  • Flu
  • Common cold
  • Viral gastroenteritis
  • Food poisoning
  • Hepatitis A
  • Giardia

Learn more about the science behind why you should wash your hands, how to wash your hands, and when and how to use hand sanitizer.


Sodium Blood Test

You get most of the sodium you need in your diet. Once your body takes in enough sodium, the kidneys get rid of the rest in your urine. If your sodium blood levels are too high or too low, it may mean that you have a problem with your kidneys, dehydration, or another medical condition. A sodium blood test may be part of an electrolyte panel that measures sodium, along with other electrolytes, including potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate.

Symptoms of high sodium levels (hypernatremia) include:

  • excessive thirst
  • infrequent urination
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Symptoms of low sodium levels (hyponatremia) include:

  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • muscle twitching
  • confusion


Almond Rice Pudding

Almond rice pudding is easy, dairy-free, and best served warm.