Day 261. Vaccination versus immunisation

In April 2013 on May 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm


You say immunisation, I say vaccination, who is right?

A comment from Gary Lum on my Killing smallpox and parasites blog post brought up the question of which term is correct.

As described in his own article posted yesterday, Gary chased down a 1997 edition of the Australian Immunisation Handbook (6th edition) to find an official answer. It reads thus:

The terms ‘vaccination’ and ‘immunisation’ are often used interchangeably, but their meanings are not exactly equivalent.

Vaccination originally referred to the inoculation of vaccinia virus to render individuals immune to smallpox.

These days the term ‘vaccination’ means the administration (usually by injection) of a vaccine or toxoid, whether or not the injection is successful in making the
recipient immune.

On the other hand, the term ‘immunisation’ denotes the process of inducing or providing immunity by the administration of an immunobiological product .

I’m going to stick to immunisation from now on, as I like the fact that the word is based on the the expected outcome of the procedure.

‘Cause we all know immunisation works, right?

[image thanks to Gary too]

  1. Thanks Sarah 🙂 Great post.

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