Q&A: What do all these vaccination terms mean?
I hear my other mom friends toss around the words vaccine, vaccination, immunization, and inoculation interchangeably. Is this correct? Is there a difference between an inoculation and a vaccination, and are they both immunizations?
If you were to ask a microbiologist or epidemiologist, he or she would no doubt take issue with all of these words being used interchangeably. Although they are all very closely linked, these words’ uses and meanings are often confused.
- Immunization is the process of rendering a subject immune, or of becoming immune. Immunization can occur naturally as your own body creates immunities to fight off a disease, or through the administration of a vaccine.
- Vaccination is the use of vaccines to help prevent certain diseases. The vaccine is the actual suspension (in a liquid form given orally or by injection) of weakened or non-live organisms.
- An inoculation is the introduction of live organisms to produce a mild form of the illness, thereby giving the body immunity. This differs from the vaccine, which generally uses weakened or killed forms of the disease.
So, to answer your question, yes, an inoculation and a vaccination are actually both forms of immunizations. If you have questions about
specific vaccines your child might need, speak with your healthcare provider.