What is the difference between vaccination and inoculation?

by | May 27, 2009 08:00 AM ET

You Asked:

What is the difference between vaccination and inoculation? --- Oliver, Nottingham, Gibraltar

Marshall Answered:

You will commonly hear doctors and nurses talk about vaccinations, inoculations and immunizations interchangeably. They all mean approximately the same thing. You are getting a substance that protects you against some sort of virus. For example, to receive protection from the polio virus, you get a polio vaccination or a polio inoculation or a polio immunization. The substance that you receive teaches your immune system about the virus, so the next time the real virus comes along, your immune system can immediately eliminate it before it has a chance to take root. See also this video, which explains the origin of the word "vaccine":

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