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It’s the start of World Immunisation Week, and if you don’t work within the healthcare industry, the term ‘immunisation’ may be unclear.

What exactly is immunisation? Why do we have it? What is the difference between immunisation and vaccination? And most importantly, what are the benefits?

There are hundreds of long, detailed definitions available online which can be daunting to read for some.

So like a typical marketer, I posed a much simpler question to our nurses and educators  – “Can anyone explain or define immunisation, in 140 characters or less?”.

Nathan Hudson-Peacock - Medical Director
"The immune system is better at fighting bugs it has seen before. Immunisation shows it a harmless version to prepare for a future infection."
Iain Campbell - Director of Nursing
“Immunisation is a way of protecting us against serious diseases. Once we’ve been immunised our bodies are better able to fight them.”
Danielle Campbell - Director of Nursing
"The benefits of immunisation affects us all. When enough people are immunised, it's more difficult for the virus to be spread."
Anna Boyce - Clinical Nurse Educator
"Immunisation is the actual immunological changes your body goes through after receiving a vaccine."
Ibrahim Momoh - Clinical Nurse Educator
"The immune system defends humans from pathogens. Immunisations usually involve injecting inactive pathogens into the body."
Sarah Diamond - Regional Nurse Manager
"Immunisations stop pathogens infecting whole populations. This is called herd immunity."
Laura Tidman - Senior Clinical Nurse
"Immunisation is the process whereby people become immune against illness caused by infection with microorganisms."
Kate Jones - Clinical Nurse
"Vaccines give the immune system a head start, providing valuable early protection against aggressive pathogens."
Michelle Marsh - Clinical Nurse
"To become immune to infectious disease, we use vaccines which contain a weaker or altered form of the pathogen."

Immunisation and vaccination are used interchangeably and although they are both related, one describes the action while the other describes the effect.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition is as follows.

Vaccination employs vaccines to stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.

Immunisation is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, by the administration of a vaccine.

Immunisation is the immunological change your body goes through after receiving a vaccine. What's your definition? #ImmunisationWeek

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So what is my definition of immunisation in only 140 characters? I think succinct definitions are a worthwhile goal – so it would read something like:

Immunisation is the body’s response to a vaccine. It recognises the invading ‘germ’ and produces antibodies. This produces an immune response.

How would you describe immunisation?

If you would like to learn more about immunisation, our educators can provide you a more descriptive definition here. Alternatively send us your question and let us provide you with an answer!

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