You asked, we answered: Can mRNA vaccines alter human DNA?

Medical illustration of DNA strand


Do mRNA vaccines work by altering human DNA?

Answer from infectious diseases expert James Lawler, MD, MPH

No, the vaccines cannot change your DNA.   

Two of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration use mRNA, or messenger RNA, to instruct your body to build the coronavirus' spike protein. Your body then produces antibodies to combat the coronavirus when it encounters it later. Learn more about how antibodies work

mRNA is very fragile, and it's very quickly degraded once inside the body. That's one of the reasons why these vaccines must be so carefully preserved at very low temperatures and why you need two doses.   

Additionally, DNA is stored in the nucleus of your cells. mRNA vaccines are designed to do their work outside of the nucleus and have not been observed to interact with the nucleus. Learn more about how mRNA vaccines work.

Get the latest fact-checked information on COVID-19 vaccines.