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Here's the reason why we roll up our sleeves and get shots in the arm
- Time of issue:2021-09-22 17:01
Hundreds of millions have rolled up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine, but why haven't they rolled up their pants legs instead? Why do we get most shots in our arms? What's the science behind why we get most vaccines in our arm?
It's worth noting that most, but not all, vaccines are given in the muscle – this is known as an intramuscular injection.
But why is the muscle so important, and does location matter?
Muscles make an excellent vaccine administration site because muscle tissue contains important immune cells. These immune cells recognize the antigen, a tiny piece of a virus or bacteria introduced by the vaccine that stimulates an immune response.
In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, the immune cells in the muscle tissue pick up these antigens and present them to the lymph nodes.
Injecting the vaccine into muscle tissue keeps the vaccine localized, allowing immune cells to sound the alarm to other immune cells and get to work.
Muscle tissue also tends to keep vaccine reactions localized. Injecting a vaccine into the deltoid muscle may result in local inflammation or soreness at the injection site.
If certain vaccines are injected into fat tissue, the chance of irritation and inflammation reaction increases because fat tissue has poor blood supply, leading to poor absorption of some vaccine components.
Vaccines that include the use of adjuvants – or components that enhance the immune response to the antigen – must be given in a muscle to avoid widespread irritation and inflammation.
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