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Understanding the difference between vaccines, vaccinations, and immunizations can be tricky. Below is an easy guide that explains how these terms are used:

  • A vaccine is a product that produces immunity from a disease and can be administered through needle injections, by mouth, or by aerosol.
  • A vaccination is the injection of a killed or weakened organism that produces immunity in the body against that organism.
  • An immunization is the process by which a person or animal becomes protected from a disease. Vaccines cause immunization, and there are also some diseases that cause immunization after an individual recovers from the disease.

Vaccines are safe.

  • Learn more about the benefits and risks of immunization including how vaccines are monitored for safety, answers to common questions, what is in vaccines, and who should be vaccinated.

Vaccines are effective.

  • Vaccines help prevent many serious diseases. Learn more about how vaccines work and the extensive testing process they undergo to ensure they are effective and safe.

Vaccines work with your immune system to prevent disease.

  • Thanks to vaccines, many diseases have been nearly eliminated. Read this section to learn more vaccines and your immune system.

Vaccines protect individuals and the community.

  • Vaccines save lives by preventing outbreaks of disease and protecting those who cannot be vaccinated. Read this section to learn about the community benefits of vaccines.

Last reviewed: March 2011