Vaccination vs Immunization: Difference between vaccination and immunization explained!

In today's world, where health and well-being are paramount concerns, understanding the fundamental concepts of vaccination and immunization is crucial. These terms are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion among many. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve deep into the difference between vaccination and immunization, exploring their history, types, and providing examples to clarify the distinctions.

Vaccination vs Immunization: Difference between vaccination and immunization explained!

Historical Perspective

Vaccination: A Triumph of Medical Science

The history of vaccination dates back to the late 18th century when Edward Jenner pioneered the concept of vaccination. He used cowpox to immunize individuals against smallpox, a groundbreaking discovery that laid the foundation for modern immunization practices.

Immunization: A Long-Running Practice

Immunization, on the other hand, has been practiced for centuries in various forms. It predates the formalization of vaccines and encompasses the broader spectrum of measures to bolster the body's immune system against diseases.

Major Differences

Vaccination: The Act of Administration

Vaccination refers to the specific act of administering vaccines to an individual. A vaccine is a biological preparation that stimulates the immune system to produce immunity to a particular disease. It can involve injections, oral drops, or nasal sprays.

Immunization: The Overall Process

Immunization is a broader term that encompasses the entire process of becoming immune to a disease. It involves not only vaccination but also natural immunity acquired from previous infections and passive immunity gained from maternal antibodies or immunoglobulin injections.

Minor Differences

Duration of Protection

Vaccination usually provides immunity for a specific duration. Booster shots may be required to maintain protection over time. Immunization, on the other hand, may offer long-lasting or even lifelong immunity in some cases.

Method of Exposure

Vaccination involves exposing the body to a weakened or inactivated form of the pathogen or a specific part of it, such as a protein. Immunization includes any method that enhances the immune system's ability to fight off diseases, including exposure to pathogens, vaccines, or even immunomodulatory substances.

Types of Vaccination and Immunization

Vaccination Types

  • Active Vaccination
    • Involves administering a vaccine to stimulate the production of antibodies.
  • Passive Vaccination
    • Involves transferring pre-formed antibodies (e.g., through immunoglobulin injections) for immediate protection.

Immunization Types

  • Natural Immunization
    • Acquired through previous infections or exposure to pathogens.
  • Artificial Immunization
    • Achieved through vaccines, passive immunization, or other medical interventions.

Real-Life Examples

Vaccination Example

The COVID-19 pandemic brought vaccination into the spotlight with the development of various vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. These vaccines were designed to stimulate the immune system against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, showcasing the power of vaccination in combating a global health crisis.

Immunization Example

Natural immunization can be observed in cases where individuals who have recovered from a particular disease, such as chickenpox, become immune to reinfection. This acquired immunity is a result of their immune system recognizing and effectively responding to the virus upon re-exposure.

Basic Key differences between vaccination and immunization:

For School students of class 9, class 10 for Biology students:

Category Vaccination Immunization
Definition The process of using vaccines to make your immune system strong and protect you from specific diseases. The overall way your body becomes immune to diseases, including through vaccines, getting sick and recovering, or receiving antibodies from someone else.
Historical Origin Started with the smallpox vaccine in the late 18th century. An age-old practice that includes using weakened viruses and other methods to build immunity.
Major Focus Deals with giving vaccines to activate your immune system. Includes all ways you become immune, whether from vaccines, infections, or transferred antibodies.
Types - Active Vaccination: Using vaccines to train your immune system.
- Passive Vaccination: Getting antibodies from someone else for immediate protection.
- Natural Immunization: Getting immunity by getting sick and recovering.
- Artificial Immunization: Using vaccines, passive antibodies, or other methods to become immune without getting sick.
Duration of Protection Vaccination's protection can last for a while but may need booster shots. Immunization's protection varies. Natural immunity can last a long time, while vaccine immunity may need boosts.
Mechanism of Action Vaccines introduce harmless parts of germs to teach your body to fight real germs. Immunization includes various ways your body learns to fight diseases, like through infections or vaccines.
Examples COVID-19 vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna, which help your body fight the virus without getting sick. Recovering from chickenpox and being immune to it afterward.
As an image:

Basic Key differences between vaccination and immunization For School students of class 9, class 10 for Biology students

Advanced Key differences between vaccination and immunization:

For School students of class 11, Class 12, medical students:

Category Vaccination Immunization
Definition The process of introducing a vaccine, often composed of inactivated or attenuated pathogens or specific antigens, to induce a protective immune response, including antibody production and memory cell formation, against a particular disease. A comprehensive concept encompassing all mechanisms and processes by which an individual develops immunity to a disease, including vaccination, natural infection, and passive transfer of antibodies.
Historical Origin Emerged with Edward Jenner's pioneering work on the smallpox vaccine in the late 18th century, leading to the formalization of vaccination practices. A practice rooted in history, ranging from variolation in ancient China to contemporary vaccine development, representing the broader scope of immunity induction.
Major Focus Concentrates on the controlled administration of vaccines to stimulate an active immune response in the host. Encompasses the broader process of achieving immunity through various means, including natural infection, artificial immunization, and passive antibody transfer.
Types - Active Vaccination: Involves introducing a vaccine to induce active immunity, including the production of antibodies and memory cells.
- Passive Vaccination: Entails the direct transfer of pre-formed antibodies (e.g., through immunoglobulin injections) to provide immediate, temporary protection.
- Natural Immunization: Occurs when the host acquires immunity through prior infection or exposure to pathogens.
- Artificial Immunization: Attained through vaccination, passive immunization, or other medical interventions, aiming to establish immunity without the host experiencing the disease.
Duration of Protection Vaccination usually offers immunity for a specific duration, necessitating booster doses to maintain long-term protection. Immunization outcomes vary; natural immunity can confer lifelong protection, while vaccine-induced immunity may require boosters depending on the vaccine type and pathogen.
Mechanism of Action Vaccination typically involves the administration of weakened, inactivated, or specific pathogenic components to trigger the adaptive immune system. This includes the activation of B cells, T cells, and antigen-presenting cells. Immunization encompasses various mechanisms, such as immune response activation through natural infection, induction of specific immunity via vaccines (e.g., activation of humoral and cell-mediated immunity), or the passive transfer of antibodies (e.g., maternal antibodies or immunoglobulin therapy).
Examples COVID-19 vaccines, like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, that employ messenger RNA technology to stimulate adaptive immune responses against SARS-CoV-2. Recovery from measles, where a prior infection with the measles virus results in robust, long-lasting immunity against future infections with the same virus.

As an image:

Advanced Key differences between vaccination and immunization For School students of class 11, Class 12, medical students


Q. Why is it called vaccination?

A. "Vaccination" is derived from the Latin word "vacca," which means "cow." It is called so because the concept of vaccination was pioneered by Edward Jenner in the late 18th century when he developed the smallpox vaccine.

Edward Jenner noticed that milkmaids who contracted a mild disease called cowpox from cows seemed to be immune to the more severe and deadly smallpox disease. He conducted an experiment in which he collected pus from a cowpox lesion on a milkmaid's hand and introduced it into a young boy named James Phipps. After Phipps recovered from cowpox, Jenner exposed him to smallpox, and the boy did not contract the disease. This experiment demonstrated that cowpox provided protection against smallpox.

Jenner's groundbreaking work led to the development of the smallpox vaccine, which was the world's first vaccine. The term "vaccine" itself is derived from "vacca" (cow) because it was originally based on the use of cowpox to protect against smallpox. Over time, the term "vaccination" came to refer to the broader practice of using vaccines to stimulate the immune system and protect against various infectious diseases.

So, "vaccination" is called so because it has its historical roots in the use of cowpox (vacca) as a means to protect against smallpox and eventually evolved to encompass the broader field of immunization through vaccines.

Q. What are the 5 types of immunization?

A. The 5 types of immunization methods are as follows:

  1. Active Immunization: This involves the administration of vaccines, which contain weakened, inactivated, or specific components of pathogens. It stimulates the recipient's immune system to produce antibodies and develop memory cells for future protection.
  2. Passive Immunization: In this method, pre-formed antibodies are directly transferred to an individual. This provides immediate, temporary protection against specific diseases, often used in cases of exposure to known pathogens or for individuals with compromised immune systems.
  3. Natural Immunization: It occurs when an individual acquires immunity through a natural infection. The immune system responds to a pathogen, and the individual becomes immune to the disease upon recovery.
  4. Artificial Immunization: This type involves inducing immunity through medical interventions other than natural infection. It includes the use of vaccines, passive antibody transfer, or immunomodulatory substances to establish protection without the individual experiencing the disease.
  5. Herd Immunity: This is a collective form of immunization where a significant portion of a population becomes immune to a disease, either through vaccination or natural infection. As a result, the spread of the disease is slowed, benefiting even those who are not immune.

These 5 types of immunization play crucial roles in preventing and controlling infectious diseases, contributing to public health efforts worldwide.

Q. Who is considered the father of vaccination?

A. The title of the father of vaccination is often attributed to Edward Jenner.

In the late 18th century, Edward Jenner, an English physician and scientist, made a pioneering contribution to the field of immunization by developing the smallpox vaccine. Jenner's work was based on the observation that individuals who had previously been infected with a milder disease called cowpox appeared to be immune to the deadly smallpox disease. He conducted experiments in which he introduced cowpox material into individuals and demonstrated that they became immune to smallpox.

This groundbreaking discovery laid the foundation for the development of vaccines and the practice of vaccination. Edward Jenner's work is widely recognized as a seminal moment in the history of medicine and immunization, earning him the title of the father of vaccination.

His legacy continues to impact modern medicine, as vaccination remains one of the most effective methods for preventing infectious diseases.

Q. What was the first immunization?

A. The first immunization can be traced back to the practice of variolation or inoculation, which was the precursor to modern vaccination.

Variolation was developed and practiced in various parts of the world, including China, India, and the Middle East, well before the formalization of vaccines. It involved the deliberate introduction of a small amount of the smallpox virus (Variola virus) into an individual, usually through the skin or nasal mucosa.

While variolation carried significant risks, it often resulted in a milder form of smallpox and provided some degree of immunity to the disease. This practice was based on the observation that individuals who had survived smallpox were generally immune to future infections.

Edward Jenner's development of the smallpox vaccine in the late 18th century, using cowpox to induce immunity against smallpox, marked a significant advancement in immunization. The smallpox vaccine was the world's first vaccine and laid the foundation for safer and more effective immunization practices.

Therefore, while variolation was the earliest form of immunization, the development of vaccines like the smallpox vaccine represented a critical milestone in the history of immunization, leading to safer and more controlled methods of achieving immunity.

Q. What is the Indian vaccine called?

A. India has developed and manufactured several vaccines, and one of the most widely recognized Indian vaccines is the "Covaxin."

Covaxin is an inactivated virus-based COVID-19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech, an Indian biotechnology company. It was developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV).

Covaxin gained prominence during the global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and has been used as part of India's vaccination campaign to protect against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

It's important to note that India produces a wide range of vaccines for various diseases, and Covaxin is just one example of the vaccines developed and manufactured in the country.

India's vaccine industry plays a significant role in global healthcare, supplying vaccines not only for domestic use but also for international distribution.

Q. What are the 4 types of vaccines?

A. There are four primary types of vaccines based on their mechanisms and composition:

  1. Inactivated or Killed Vaccines: These vaccines contain pathogens (viruses or bacteria) that have been killed or inactivated, rendering them non-infectious. When administered, they stimulate an immune response without causing the disease. Examples include the polio vaccine (inactivated poliovirus vaccine, IPV) and the hepatitis A vaccine.
  2. Live Attenuated Vaccines: These vaccines use weakened forms of live pathogens that are unable to cause disease in healthy individuals. They closely mimic natural infections and typically provide long-lasting immunity. Examples include the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the yellow fever vaccine.
  3. Subunit, Recombinant, or Conjugate Vaccines: These vaccines use specific components of pathogens, such as proteins or polysaccharides, to trigger an immune response. They are safer than live vaccines and can be used for individuals with weakened immune systems. Examples include the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
  4. Messenger RNA (mRNA) Vaccines: These vaccines are a relatively new type that use genetic material (mRNA) from the pathogen to instruct cells to produce a harmless piece of the pathogen for the immune system to recognize. The immune response generated provides protection against the actual pathogen. Examples include the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Each type of vaccine has its advantages and limitations, and the choice of vaccine depends on the specific pathogen and the desired immune response.

Q. Who introduced vaccination in India?

A. Vaccination in India was introduced by Dr. Edward Jenner, an English physician and scientist, who is widely regarded as the pioneer of vaccination.

Dr. Jenner's groundbreaking work in the late 18th century led to the development of the smallpox vaccine, which was one of the earliest vaccines used to prevent infectious diseases. His discovery and advocacy for vaccination had a profound impact on global healthcare, including India.

The introduction of vaccination in India played a crucial role in combating diseases such as smallpox and laid the foundation for the development and use of vaccines to prevent various infectious diseases in the country.

Over the years, India has become a significant producer and consumer of vaccines, contributing to its public health efforts and the global vaccination landscape.

Q. What is the concept of immunization?

A. The concept of immunization refers to the process by which individuals develop immunity or resistance to specific diseases, protecting them from illness or severe complications caused by those diseases.

Immunization works by stimulating an individual's immune system to recognize and remember a particular pathogen, such as a virus or bacterium. This recognition enables the immune system to respond rapidly and effectively if the person is later exposed to the same pathogen.

The primary methods of achieving immunization include:

  • Vaccination: The administration of vaccines, which are usually composed of weakened, inactivated, or specific components of pathogens. Vaccines trigger an immune response without causing the disease and provide immunity.
  • Natural Infection: When an individual becomes infected with a pathogen and recovers, their immune system often develops memory cells that recognize and combat the same pathogen if encountered again.
  • Passive Immunization: The direct transfer of pre-formed antibodies, such as through maternal antibodies in breast milk or immunoglobulin therapy. This provides immediate, temporary protection.

Immunization is a critical tool in public health, as it helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases, reduces the incidence of severe illness and complications, and can lead to the eventual eradication of certain diseases. It is a cornerstone of preventive medicine and has saved countless lives worldwide.

Q. What is the full form of BCG?

A. The full form of BCG is Bacillus Calmette-Guérin.

BCG is a type of vaccine used for immunization against tuberculosis (TB). It is named after the two French scientists, Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin, who developed the vaccine in the early 20th century.

The BCG vaccine is an attenuated strain of the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis, which is related to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis in humans (Mycobacterium tuberculosis). The BCG vaccine is primarily used to protect against severe forms of tuberculosis in children and is an essential part of many countries' childhood immunization programs.

It's important to note that while the BCG vaccine provides some protection against certain forms of TB, it is not as effective in preventing the most common type of adult pulmonary tuberculosis. Therefore, it is primarily used to prevent severe childhood TB and is less commonly used in adults.

Q. What is the National Immunization Schedule in India?

A. The National Immunization Schedule in India, also known as the Universal Immunization Program (UIP), provides a comprehensive vaccination program to protect children and pregnant women against various vaccine-preventable diseases. Here is an overview of the schedule:

  • At Birth:
    • BCG Vaccine: Protection against tuberculosis.
    • OPV (Zero Dose): Oral Polio Vaccine to prevent polio.
  • 6 Weeks:
    • DPT-1: Vaccine against Diphtheria, Pertussis (whooping cough), and Tetanus.
    • Hepatitis B (1st Dose): Protection against Hepatitis B.
  • 10 Weeks:
    • DPT-2: Second dose of DPT vaccine.
    • Hepatitis B (2nd Dose): Second dose of Hepatitis B vaccine.
    • IPV (1st Dose): Inactivated Polio Vaccine.
  • 14 Weeks:
    • DPT-3: Third dose of DPT vaccine.
    • Hepatitis B (3rd Dose): Third dose of Hepatitis B vaccine.
    • IPV (2nd Dose): Second dose of Inactivated Polio Vaccine.
  • 6 Months:
    • OPV (1st Dose): Oral Polio Vaccine.
  • 9 Months:
    • Measles-Rubella (MR) Vaccine: Protection against measles and rubella.
  • 9-12 Months:
    • Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine: Protection against typhoid.
  • 16-24 Months:
    • Measles-Rubella (MR) Vaccine: Second dose for continued protection.
  • 18-24 Months:
    • DPT Booster: Booster dose for Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus.
    • OPV Booster: Booster dose for Polio.
    • Hepatitis A (1st Dose): Protection against Hepatitis A.
  • 2 Years to 10 Years:
    • Vitamin A Drops: To address Vitamin A deficiency.
  • 10-16 Years:
    • TT (Tetanus Toxoid) Vaccine: For tetanus protection.
  • Pregnant Women:
    • TT (Tetanus Toxoid) Vaccine: To protect both the mother and newborn from tetanus.

Q. Who is considered the father of immunology?

A. The title of the father of immunology is often attributed to Edward Jenner.

While Edward Jenner is more commonly known as the pioneer of vaccination for his development of the smallpox vaccine, his work laid the foundation for the field of immunology. His experiments with cowpox and smallpox led to the concept of immunization, where the immune system is stimulated to provide protection against specific diseases.

It's important to note that the field of immunology has evolved significantly since Jenner's time, with many other scientists making crucial contributions to our understanding of the immune system. However, Jenner's groundbreaking work remains a pivotal moment in the history of immunology and vaccination.

Modern immunology encompasses a wide range of research and discoveries related to the immune system, its functions, and its role in health and disease, building upon the foundations laid by scientists like Edward Jenner.

Q. Who coined the term vaccine?

A. The term vaccine was coined by Edward Jenner.

Edward Jenner, the pioneer of vaccination, introduced the term "vaccine" in the late 18th century. The word "vaccine" is derived from the Latin word "vacca," which means "cow." Jenner used this term to describe the material he used in his experiments, which was derived from cowpox, a milder disease that provided protection against smallpox.

Jenner's development of the smallpox vaccine and the use of the term "vaccine" marked a significant milestone in the history of medicine and immunization, and it laid the foundation for the modern practice of vaccination.

Since then, the term "vaccine" has become widely recognized and is used to describe a broad range of preventive measures that stimulate the immune system to provide protection against specific diseases.

Q. What was the world's first vaccine called?

A. The world's first vaccine was called the smallpox vaccine.

The smallpox vaccine was the first vaccine ever developed and remains one of the most historically significant medical breakthroughs. It was created by Edward Jenner in the late 18th century. The smallpox vaccine was based on the use of cowpox virus, a less virulent disease, to induce immunity against the deadly smallpox virus (Variola virus).

Edward Jenner's work with the smallpox vaccine marked the beginning of the field of immunization and vaccination. His pioneering efforts laid the foundation for the development of vaccines for various infectious diseases, ultimately leading to the control and eventual eradication of smallpox, one of the most devastating diseases in human history.

The success of the smallpox vaccine played a pivotal role in demonstrating the potential of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases and save countless lives.

Q. Who invented the rabies vaccine?

A. The rabies vaccine was invented by Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist and chemist, in the late 19th century.

In the 1880s, Pasteur developed the first rabies vaccine by growing the rabies virus in rabbits and then weakening it through a series of passages through rabbit spinal cords. This weakened virus, known as the "Pasteur vaccine," was used to immunize individuals who had been exposed to rabies.

Louis Pasteur's pioneering work on the rabies vaccine not only provided a means to prevent rabies but also contributed to our understanding of vaccines and the principles of immunization. His discoveries laid the foundation for the development of vaccines against other infectious diseases and revolutionized the field of microbiology and immunology.

Q. What is the MMR vaccine?

A. The MMR vaccine is a vaccine that provides protection against three highly contagious diseases:

  • Measles: A viral disease known for its characteristic rash, fever, and respiratory symptoms. Measles can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis.
  • Mumps: An infectious viral disease that causes swelling of the salivary glands, leading to fever, headache, and often painful swelling of the cheeks or jaw.
  • Rubella (German Measles): A viral disease that typically causes a mild rash and fever but can have severe consequences if contracted by pregnant women, as it can lead to birth defects in the developing fetus.

The MMR vaccine contains weakened or inactivated forms of the viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella. When administered, the vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies against these viruses, providing immunity without causing the diseases themselves.

The MMR vaccine is typically given in two doses, with the first dose administered at around 12-15 months of age and the second dose between 4-6 years of age. It is an essential part of childhood immunization programs in many countries and has played a crucial role in reducing the incidence of these diseases and their associated complications.

Ensuring high vaccination coverage with the MMR vaccine is vital in preventing outbreaks of these contagious diseases and protecting public health.

Q. Who invented the polio vaccine?

A. The polio vaccine was developed by two scientists:

  • Dr. Jonas Salk: He developed the first effective, inactivated (killed) polio vaccine in the early 1950s. This vaccine, known as the Salk vaccine or the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), was administered by injection. It played a crucial role in controlling and eventually eliminating polio in many parts of the world.
  • Dr. Albert Sabin: He developed an oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the late 1950s. The Sabin vaccine, also known as the oral polio vaccine (OPV) or the live attenuated polio vaccine, was administered orally. It contributed significantly to global polio eradication efforts.

Both vaccines were instrumental in the worldwide campaign to eliminate polio. The choice between the inactivated (Salk) vaccine and the oral (Sabin) vaccine depends on various factors, including the local epidemiology of the disease and the vaccination strategy used.

The development of these polio vaccines marked a major milestone in medical history and public health, as they contributed to the near-eradication of polio globally.


In summary, while vaccination is a specific method of immunization, immunization itself encompasses a broader range of processes that lead to immunity against diseases. Understanding these differences is vital for making informed decisions about one's health and participating in public health initiatives. As we continue to combat emerging diseases and safeguard our communities, this knowledge becomes increasingly relevant in promoting a healthier and more informed society.