Vaccine glossary

When discussing vaccinations with your doctor or your child’s doctor or while researching vaccines your child will need, the terminology can be confusing. This simple guide may help you better understand some of the more troublesome terms used when vaccinations are involved.

Acellular vaccine – A shot that contains a portion of the virus or bacteria that it is meant to prevent in the future.

Active Immunity – The response in which your body produces a life-long defense system against a certain disease.

Adjuvant – A common ingredient added to the medication in a vaccine such as eggs, milk, or gelatin.

Anaphylaxis – An intense allergic reaction that puts the body into a state of shock.

Antibodies – Cells created to defend against the invasion of a disease. Antibodies fight off all future attacks of those diseased germs.

Antigens – Ingredients that create a vaccine’s antibodies.

Antimicrobial agent – Manmade ingredients used in vaccines that in small doses are not rejected by a person’s body.

Vaccine glossary 1

Attenuated vaccine – A shot in which the virus or bacteria have been weakened.

Auto-disable syringe – A shot in which the needle is immediately pushed into the tube after use to prevent harm when the needle is thrown out.

Autoimmunity – When the body creates its own antibodies to prevent a disease.

Bacterial vaccine – A shot created from live bacteria.

Bacterium – The term used when referring to bacteria in a singular tense.

Boosters – Shots that are given after a span of time has elapsed from the time of the first injection. This process ensures the body has built up a defense to that certain disease.

Combination vaccine – A single shot that combines medications to prevent a number of different diseases. (Such as the shot for measles, mumps, and rubella.)

Conjugate vaccines – Shots made from manmade materials that bind to the invading virus or bacteria.

Contraindication – A written warning against giving people with certain medical conditions or allergies that shot.

Disposable syringe – A shot that can be thrown away after use.

DNA vaccine – A shot with antibodies created by altering the original disease’s DNA.

Efficacy rate – The measurement used to declare how effective a vaccine is when used in live studies.

Endemic – A never-ending, low-level presence of a disease in a community.

Epidemic – A growing number of reported cases of a certain disease.

Intramuscular injection – A shot that is injected into the muscle.

Investigational vaccines – Shots full of medicine that are FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved, but that have not undergone all testing.

Jet injector – A needle-free shot that is injected under the skin using a high power blast of air.

Live vaccine – A shot that contains a live version of a potentially deadly virus or bacteria.

Live-vector vaccine – A shot containing medication that causes the body to build up white blood cells in order to kill off the disease that is present in the person’s body.

Pandemic – An outbreak of a disease that covers a huge area.

Parenteral – The process of injecting preventative medication through a vein.

Priming – The first shot in a series of vaccines that is then followed months or years later by a booster.

Safety syringe – A shot that can be taken apart so that it is thrown out safely.

Sterilizable syringe – A shot that is thoroughly washed, sterilized, and reused.

Strain – A specific variety of a general viral or bacterial disease.

Subcutaneous injection – A shot that is given directly under the skin layers.