Many nurses practicing today have spent their careers administering or receiving traditional vaccines containing weakened or inactivated pathogens. As a result, vaccines using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology may seem new, but they are not. Messenger RNA vaccines have been studied for decades on viruses such as flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus.

Messenger RNA technology has also been used in cancer research for more than a decade in efforts to stimulate an immune response to attack specific cancer cells. No mRNA vaccine for cancer has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to date. However, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna used their experience studying cancer vaccines to create mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

Understanding mRNA technology is important in advancing nurses’ knowledge and practice in pharmacotherapeutics because the technology has broad potential in vaccines, protein replacement therapy, and the treatment of genetic diseases. The use of mRNA...

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