Vaccine versus immunize, and immunization versus vaccination. (You say, “tomato,” and I say, “tomahto.”)

Many people use the words interchangeably even though they mean slightly different things. We thought you might want to know that we know that.


A preparation of killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or living fully virulent organisms that is administered to produce or artificially increase immunity to a particular disease.


To give (someone) a vaccine to prevent infection by a disease.


When a person is given something to make the immune system learn to fight an infectious disease.


When a person’s immune system learns to fight an infection. Immunization can happen from vaccination. But immunization can also happen from getting the infection.


The ability to produce a desired or intended result.


Any substance that causes the immune system to produce antibodies against it. Antigens include foreign substances (chemicals, virus, pollen, bacteria) or toxins within the body (bacteria toxins, tissue).


An agent that causes disease, such as a living microorganism (i.e. bacteria).


Y-shaped proteins on the surface of B-cells that are secreted into blood in response to an antigenic stimulus that neutralizes the antigen by binding to it.


In the vaccine world this means how well does it protect a certain percent of the population.


The rate illness associated with a disease. It refers to an incidence of ill health in a population.


The death associated with a disease. It refers to the incidence of death or the number of deaths in a population. People will often misuse mortality data. Keep in mind that it is very difficult to compare mortality rates across countries.