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Helpful terms

Date last reviewed: 
Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023
The terms vaccine, vaccination, and immunization are used across this website. Understanding what these terms mean and the difference between them can be helpful. 


A vaccine is a type of medicine that stimulates the body’s immune response to provide protection against a specific disease. Most vaccines are given by injection (needle), but some are given orally (by mouth) or nasally (sprayed into the nose). 
Example: All babies need the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine. 
A Black doctor holding a baby. He has his hair tied back and is wearing a lab coat.


Immunization is the process by which a person becomes protected against a disease. Immunization can also mean the process of getting the vaccine. This term is often used interchangeably with vaccination. 
Example: Immunization has saved more lives in the past 50 years than any other health intervention. 


Vaccination is the introduction of a vaccine into the body to provide protection against a specific disease.
Example: It’s time to book your tetanus vaccination.