Dauntless JaunterExplore • Educate • Experience • Enlighten
Immunization vs Vaccination vs Inoculation: What’s the Difference?

Immunization vs Vaccination vs Inoculation: What’s the Difference?


Immunization vs vaccination vs inoculation – many of us use these terms interchangeably, myself included, but there are differences in these terms!

As coronavirus continues to wreak havoc upon the world, the terms vaccine, immunization, and cure have risen in popularity.

As a travel enthusiast who (used to) loves going to new and distant lands, vaccinations and immunizations pop up frequently, as well.

But what is the difference between immunizations and vaccinations?

Read on to find out!

Immunization vs Vaccination
A girl getting a vaccine. Or a shot. Or an immunization. Or an inoculation. Or an injection. Or… Taken by the CDC via unsplash.com. [Public Domain].

Related Read: What’s the Difference Between an Epidemic vs Pandemic vs Endemic?

Immunization vs Vaccination

First, the vaccine.

A vaccine is a substance administered to someone to attempt to provide immunity to a disease or several diseases. Vaccines are mean to prevent disease from infecting a person to begin with, rather than used to treat or cure them after the fact.

A vaccine is often prepared using an agent that closely resembles the microorganism causing the disease. Otherwise, it can be made using a super weak or dead form of said microorganism, or sometimes just its toxins or proteins. In the case of coronavirus, the first vaccine candidate tested on a human was artificially created by using “a short segment of genetic code copied from the virus that scientists have been able to make in a laboratory.”

Because this vaccine resembles the disease-carrying real thing, the body is stimulated to begin creating antibodies, which hopefully makes the body immune when the real threat comes along. If and when a particular pathogen infiltrates the body after the vaccine is administered, the body is primed and ready to attack it efficiently and effectively.

A vaccination is the act of administering a vaccine.

Now immunizations.

An immunization is the process where the body’s immune system becomes resistant, immune, and fortified against an infectious disease.

Yes, it sounds similar to a vaccination, and oftentimes people use the two terms synonymously.

And yes, most immunizations are done through vaccinations by way of vaccines. However, there are other ways to immunize someone against a threat.

There are two types of immunizations: active immunizations and passive immunizations. Vaccinations are a form of active immunization, as you are actively immunizing yourself against a possible future threat. Passive immunization includes cases such as antitoxins or when a mother passes antibodies to a child during a pregnancy.

So, what’s the difference between an immunization vs vaccination?

Immunizations are a process the body goes through to become immune to or prepare itself for a possible infectious disease. Vaccinations are one the most common form of immunizations, where a vaccine is administered to the body.

That wasn’t so hard, right?

Related Read: Does Screening Travelers for Disease and Infection Really Work?

Inoculations & the Etymology of Immunizations and Vaccinations

An inoculation was originally known as a variolation, which was a type of immunization specifically against smallpox (variola in Latin). In the early 1700s, doctors would rub smallpox-infected fluids from a smallpox-infected person into a shallow scratch of another person to hopefully cause a light version of smallpox which the body could easily overcome.

This was a common treatment prior to the invention of the smallpox vaccine by Edward Jenner in 1798. This new smallpox vaccine, the first successful vaccine ever, was initially known as both vaccine inoculation or cowpox inoculation. This was because Jenner recognized the similarities between cowpox and smallpox, which led to his vaccine. The word vaccine actually comes from variolae vaccinae, which means “smallpox of the cow.”

Later, it was the great Louis Pasteur himself who would propose that the term vaccines and vaccinations be enlarged to include other treatments in this manner.

Related Read: Social Distancing: What It Is & Why It’s the Best Tool We Have to Fight the Coronavirus

Well, there you have it, the differences between an immunization vs vaccination, with inoculation and some etymology thrown in for good measure! We hope you found this article informative, enjoyable, and easy to understand! Got any questions, feedback, or other points to bring up about the differences between a vaccination vs immunization? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Christian Eilers
Written by
Christian Eilers
Join the discussion

Dauntless Jaunter