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Vaccines and COVID-19 – Lecture in a Box

Published August 19, 2021



COVID-19 has challenged everyone to understand how vaccines work and how we can ensure their safety. This talk from microbiology author Marjorie Kelly Cowan is an update of her early summer talk and provides vaccine basics and then the particulars of the vaccines used for COVID-19. Be sure that your students have access to an authoritative source of information amongst all the noise in the cybersphere concerning vaccines, with this 38-minute video pulling on concepts and figures from her microbiology textbooks.

Scientists have produced effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19. The speed with which the vaccines were produced is unprecedented, and that makes some worry that they were “rushed through” and may not be safe or effective.  This mini-lecture reviews vaccine biology and discusses how the current vaccines were made and assessed and discusses their safety profile now that they are being administered to the public.

Below you will find three multiple choice questions that you can use to test your students on their knowledge after viewing the lecture.

MC Questions for “Vaccines and COVID”

  1. Which of the following is a characteristic of adaptive immunity?
    1. It mounts an immediate, effective response after initial exposure to antigen.
    2. It has a separate response for each antigen it encounters.
    3. It results in tolerance to foreign antigens.
    4. Once activated it stays “on” for the life of the host.
  2. By the time a vaccine is released to the public, it has been tested in
    1. a handful of people.
    2. dozens of people.
    3. hundreds of people.
    4. thousands of people.
  3. Herd immunity to COVID will be achieved when
    1. between 60-80% of the population is vaccinated.
    2. the elderly population is vaccinated.
    3. 100% of the population is vaccinated.
    4. 100% mask compliance is achieved.




About the Author

Kelly Cowan has taught at Miami University since 1993 and was the Middletown Campus Dean from 2005-2009. She was interim director at the local campus of Cincinnati State and Technical College for 2015. She is the author of two successful McGraw-Hill microbiology textbooks. Her interest in under-resourced students led her to her now full-time engagement in two arenas: 1) with students and residents in generational poverty; and 2) with institutions - civic and educational - who serve them. Kelly grew up in eastern Kentucky and was educated at the University of Louisville, the University of Maryland, and the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands. She founded a large non-profit in Middletown that supports the cradle-to-career education of under-resourced families helping them move to self-sufficiency. Kelly is also available, schedule permitting, to speak on these topics at your school, at no or little cost to you. To contact Kelly, please visit her website at

Profile Photo of Kelly Cowan