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Difference Between Immunisation and Vaccination – Star Health

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 06/09/2023

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic introduced several new terms into our vocabulary. Whether it was social distancing, quarantine, vaccination, and more. However, hearing these terms is different from knowing exactly what they mean. And when it comes to health, being misinformed poses a great threat with costly implications. Several individuals realised the importance of a medical insurance plan to counter its ill effects and took to the internet to buy health insurance online. However, while comprehensive health insurance will cover the expenses incurred on treatment, most will agree that prevention is better than cure.

One common question that confused most individuals in the post-pandemic frenzy is — what is the difference between immunisation and vaccination? While the terms are often used interchangeably, there lies a very specific distinction in the meaning of the two terms. And knowing where the vaccination and immunisation difference lies can help prevent misunderstandings with your healthcare provider.

Difference Between Immunisation and Vaccination

You may have observed that the terms immunised, vaccinated, and inoculated are often used interchangeably. However, knowing the difference between vaccine and injection, for instance, or even immunisation vs vaccination, can help you get the right treatment. Let’s start with establishing a simple definition of each of the terms:

  • Vaccination is simply the act of receiving a vaccine

  • Immunisation (a.k.a. inoculated), on the other hand, is the process of becoming immune via vaccination

You can remember the vaccination and immunisation differences by a simple trick: one of them is an action, and the other is a reaction. To elaborate, vaccines are used to stimulate your immune system to secure your body against a specific disease or infection. So, vaccination is the action you take to immunise your body (which is a reaction caused by the vaccine).

While the aforementioned differences may seem minor, they are still essential to healthcare practice. And in the pandemic-induced chaos in the hospitals, knowing the difference between immunisation vs vaccination can save lives.

Now, before understanding how vaccines or immunisation works, it is important to understand how the body naturally defends itself when attacked by external germs

The Body’s Natural Defence Mechanism

Germs are everywhere. Both in and around our bodies. However, when an individual is susceptible and comes into contact with a harmful organism, they can contract the disease, which in extreme cases may lead to death.

Thankfully, the body has developed several mechanisms to protect itself from these disease-causing germs, which are known as pathogens. Our body is already physically equipped to prevent these pathogens from entering the body in the first place. These physical barriers are skin, mucus, and cilia (which are microscopic hairs that keep debris away from the lungs).

Despite these physical defences, if the pathogen still manages to find its way into our body, our immune system is stimulated to attack and destroy the pathogen.

Therefore, our bodies have an in-built system that works to ensure they remain in their normal, healthy state.

The Immune System’s Soldiers: Antibodies

Every pathogen comprises several elements that are unique to the disease it causes. The subpart of these pathogens that lead to the formation of antibodies is known as an antigen. The antibodies that are developed within our bodies as a response to the pathogen’s antigens are a crucial part of the immune system. These antibodies are the soldiers of your body’s defence system. Every antibody is trained to identify one specific antigen, and our body comprises thousands of these distinct antibodies. However, when an individual is exposed to an antigen for the first time, the immune system takes some time to develop the specific antibodies. In the meantime, however, that individual becomes susceptible to the illness.

Yet, once these antibodies are produced, they destroy the pathogen and stop the illness. While producing the necessary antibodies, the human body also creates antibody-producing memory cells that remain alive even after destroying the pathogen. It does this to ensure that if the body is attacked again by the same pathogen, the defence becomes quicker and more efficient.

How Do Vaccines Help?

Vaccines are made with inactive or weakened components of a specific organism (antigen) to stimulate the response of the immune system within the body. You can think of vaccines as the blueprint of the antigen rather than the antigen itself. Whether or not the vaccine is made of the antigen or its blueprint, the body will produce the required antibodies to defend itself. While this weakened antigen will encourage the immune to fight, it will not cause illness in the person receiving the vaccine.

Vaccines are defined as the process of administration of the vaccine to prevent illnesses or diseases. It is essential to know that vaccines don’t cure diseases but prevent them.

With the advances in medical sciences, the genetic material of the microbes, such as RNA and DNA, can also be injected as vaccines. The difference between vaccine and injection is that the former is a biological infection to fight infectious diseases, whereas the latter is the action of giving the liquid (injecting) into a person’s body using a needle and a syringe.

Vaccines are a revolutionary development, and in India, illnesses such as polio and smallpox were successfully eradicated with the mass administration of vaccines.

How Does Immunisation Work?

When your body contracts an illness because of an antigen, it develops antibodies to defend itself. Your immune system is typically considered strong if you have more antibodies.

When a vaccine injects a dead or attenuated antigen into your body, your immune system kicks into action. Assuming it is a pathogen, the immune system actually attacks it. Your immune system then develops antibodies to fight against these antigens.

Therefore, owing to vaccination, if your body does contract the disease later, your immune system is already equipped to fight against the antigens. This is known as immunisation.

The Bottom Line

In the post-pandemic world, there is a heightened awareness about taking care of your health. Several efforts have been directed to inform individuals about improving their health and overall wellness through maintaining hygiene, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet. However, along with looking after their physical health, individuals will also have to take care of their financial health. This is important because if they do get hospitalised, they don’t have to worry about paying for the treatment. The easiest way to do this is by investing in health insurance.

A comprehensive medical insurance plan takes care of both pre-and post-hospitalisation expenses to ensure that the patient gets the best medical treatment for a speedy recovery. Amongst the many benefits of health insurance, the most relevant ones included in the Tata AIG cover are COVID-19 protection, cashless treatments, coverage for pre-existing illnesses, and much more. You can customise your medical insurance plan by analysing your health and seeking coverage accordingly. Moreover, when you buy health insurance online, you can easily compare policies to find yourself a suitable cover. The convenience afforded by health insurance policies for a variety of health-related expenses is what makes them an important financial investment.

Disclaimer / TnC

Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.

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