AskDefine | Define vaccination

Dictionary Definition



1 taking a vaccine as a precaution against contracting a disease [syn: inoculation]
2 the scar left following innoculation with a vaccine

User Contributed Dictionary



From Latin vacca, "cow". The term was coined by Edward Jenner (1749-1823) who infected people with weakened cowpox viruses to immunise them againt the disease.


  • IPA: /ˌvæksɪˈneɪʃən/, /ˌvæksɪˈneɪʃn/


  1. Inoculation with a vaccine in order to protect a particular disease or strain of disease

Related terms


inoculation with a vaccine

Extensive Definition

Vaccination is the administration of antigenic material (the Vaccine) to produce immunity to a disease. Vaccines can prevent or ameliorate the effects of infection by a pathogen. It is considered to be the most effective and cost-effective method of preventing infectious diseases. The material administrated can either be live, but weakened forms of pathogens such as bacteria or viruses, killed or inactivated forms of these pathogens, or purified material such as proteins. Smallpox was the first disease people tried to prevent by purposely inoculating themselves with other types of infections; smallpox inoculation was started in China or India before 200 BC. In 1718, Lady Mary Wortley Montague reported that the Turks have a habit of deliberately inoculating themselves with fluid taken from mild cases of smallpox and she inoculated her own children.Before Edward Jenner tested the possibility of using the cowpox vaccine as an immunisation for smallpox in humans in 1796 for the first time, at least six people had done the same several years earlier: a person whose identity is unknown, England, (about 1771), Mrs. Sevel, Germany (about 1772), Mr. Jensen, Germany (about 1770), Benjamin Jesty, England, in 1774, Mrs. Rendall, England (about 1782) and Peter Plett, Germany, in 1791. In 1796 Edward Jenner inoculated using cowpox (a mild relative of the deadly smallpox virus). Pasteur and others built on this.

History of vaccinations

In an attempt to eliminate the risk of outbreaks of some diseases, at various times several governments and other institutions have instituted policies requiring vaccination for all people. For example, an 1853 law required universal vaccination against smallpox in England and Wales, with fines levied on people who did not comply. Common contemporary U.S. vaccination policies require that children receive common vaccinations before entering school. A few other countries also have some compulsory vaccinations.
Beginning with early vaccination in the nineteenth century, these policies led to resistance from a variety of groups, collectively called anti-vaccinationists, who objected on ethical, political, medical safety, religious, and other grounds. Common objections are that compulsory vaccination represents excessive government intervention in personal matters, or that the proposed vaccinations are not sufficiently safe. Many modern vaccination policies allow exemptions for people who have compromised immune systems, allergies to the components used in vaccinations or strongly-held objections.

Herd immunity and medical risk management issues

Vaccination campaigns are generally accepted as having contributed to the worldwide elimination of smallpox, through herd immunity, and to the restriction of polio to isolated pockets in countries where healthcare access is difficult. The risk management practices of government health agencies' promoting widespread vaccination campaigns has prompted increasing controversy in recent years, despite the fact that many once-common childhood diseases, such as mumps, measles and rubella, are now relatively rare in developed countries.

Adjuvants and preservatives

Vaccines typically contain one or more adjuvants, used to boost the immune response. Tetanus toxoid, for instance, is usually adsorbed onto alum. This presents the antigen in such a way as to produce a greater action than the simple aqueous tetanus toxoid. People who get an excessive reaction to adsorbed tetanus toxoid may be given the simple vaccine when time for a booster occurs.
In the preparation for the 1990 Gulf campaign, Pertussis vaccine (not acellular) was used as an adjuvant for Anthrax vaccine. This produces a more rapid immune response than giving only the Anthrax, which is of some benefit if exposure might be imminent.
They may also contain preservatives, which are used to prevent contamination with bacteria or fungi. Until recent years, the preservative thiomersal was used in many vaccines that did not contain live virus. As of 2005, the only childhood vaccine in the U.S. that contains thiomersal in greater than trace amounts is the influenza vaccine, which is currently recommended only for children with certain risk factors. The UK is considering Influenza immunisation in children perhaps as soon as in 2006-7. Single-dose Influenza vaccines supplied in the UK do not list Thiomersal (its UK name) in the ingredients. Preservatives may be used at various stages of production of vaccines, and the most sophisticated methods of measurement might detect traces of them in the finished product, as they may in the environment and population as a whole

Combined vaccines

Combined vaccinations are now widely used around the world, a result of the rapid increase in the number of shots recommended in current vaccination schedules.

Methods of administration

A vaccine administration may be oral, by injection (intramuscular, intradermal, subcutaneous), by puncture, transdermal or intranasal.

Vaccine research

Some major contemporary research in vaccination focuses on development of vaccinations for diseases including HIV and malaria.
Vaccine is an international peer-reviewed journal for vaccination researchers, indexed in Medline pISSN: 0264-410X.

See also


External links

  • The Vaccine Page links to resources in many countries.
  • Immunisation Immunisation schedule for children in the UK. Published by the UK Department of Health.
  • Vaccine Ingredients A list of vaccine ingredients.
  • Brian - 'mmr & autism investigation: part 1: the Lancet scandal', Brian Deer
  • - 'National Immunization Program: leading the way to healthy lives', US Centers for Disease Control (CDC information on vaccinations)
  • - 'Mercury and Vaccines (Thimerosal)', US Centers for Disease Control
  • - Immunization Action Coalition' (nonprofit working to increase immunization rates)
  • - 'On Autism's Cause, It's Parents vs. Research', Gardiner Harris, Anahad O'Connor, New York Times (front page; June 25, 2005)
  • - 'Autism and vaccines: Activists wage a nasty campaign to silence scientists' (unsigned editorial opinion), Wall Street Journal (February 16, 2004)
  • - 'Anti-vaccine activists get jabbed', Michael Fumento (March 11, 2004)
  • - 'Immunizations, vaccines and biologicals: Towards a World free of Vaccine Preventable Diseases', World Health Organization (WHO's global vaccination campaign website)
  • - 'National Vaccine Information Center: the oldest and largest national organization advocating reformation of the mass vaccination system'
  • - 'Vaccination Debate', Ian Sinclair
  • - 'Vaccination Liberation'
vaccination in Danish: Vaccination
vaccination in German: Impfung
vaccination in Spanish: Vacunación
vaccination in French: vaccination
vaccination in Italian: Vaccinazione
vaccination in Dutch: vaccinatie
vaccination in Portuguese: Vacinação
vaccination in Romanian: Vaccin
vaccination in Simple English: vaccination
vaccination in Slovak: Očkovanie
vaccination in Finnish: Rokotus
vaccination in Swedish: Vaccination
vaccination in Chinese: 疫苗接種
vaccination in Vietnamese: Vắc-xin
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