EDMONTON -- The federal government is teaching Canadians about how the COVID-19 vaccine starting to be rolled out across the country this week works.

Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine teaches cells in the body how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response, causing the body to produce antibodies, according to Health Canada.

The difference between this vaccine and a typical flu shot is that Pfizer’s triggers the immune response without using the actual virus that causes COVID-19.

RNA stands for ribonucleic acid, a molecule that gives cells instructions to make proteins. The messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine contains the information for creating the protein found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19, according to Health Canada. After cells create this protein, the body recognizes that the protein doesn’t belong in the body and antibodies are made, which will fight off the real COVID-19 virus if a person becomes infected.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses — the second 21 days after the first — to be as effective as possible, according to Health Canada. Their website also states the vaccine was 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 in 44,000 study participants, one week after the second dose.

Health Canada also indicated this vaccine has similar side effects to other vaccines, like the flu shot. Possible side effects include feeling feverish, feeling tired, pain where it was injected and chills.

An allergic reaction is possible, Health Canada warned, and advised people with allergies to the ingredients in the vaccine should not get it.

The list of ingredients in the vaccine and more information can be found on the Government of Canada’s website