“Immunize vs. Vaccinate” from two perspectives

If you’ve read some of the mind-numbing comment posts about vaccination, you’ll will undoubtedly come across the following argument:

“Vaccination is not the same as immunization!”

That statement means different things to different people. To us scientists, it’s a “truism.” Vaccination is a way to immunize, so is a natural infectious process. Both may not immunize if the person getting the vaccine or the disease doesn’t react to the vaccine or the disease in a way that creates immunity. For example, there are plenty of people who are “non-responders” to the hepatitis B vaccine. That is, they don’t make detectable antibodies against hepatitis B when they go through the vaccination series. They’re not considered immune, but they are also not excluded from working in healthcare and other “risky” professions. Why? Because the jury is out as to whether or not non-responders are really not immune. That is, we don’t really know if they’ll be protected or not. But, by taking the vaccine series, they did the best they could to be protected, short of using personal protective equipment and universal precautions.

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