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Immunization Related Terms

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  • Acellular Vaccine

  • A vaccine containing partial cellular material as opposed to complete cells.

  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

  • A medical condition where the immune system cannot function properly and protect the body from disease. As a result, the body cannot defend itself against infections (like pneumonia). AIDS is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This virus is spread through direct contact with the blood and body fluids of an infected individual. High risk activities include unprotected sexual intercourse and intravenous drug use (sharing needles). There is no cure for AIDS, however, research efforts are on-going to develop a vaccine.

  • Active Immunity

  • The production of antibodies against a specific disease by the immune system. Active immunity can be acquired in two ways, either by contracting the disease or through vaccination. Active immunity is usually permanent, meaning an individual is protected from the disease for the duration of their lives.

  • Acute

  • A short-term, intense health effect.

  • ADAP

  • An immediate and severe allergic reaction to a substance (e.g. food or drugs). Symptoms of anaphylaxis include breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness and a drop in blood pressure. This condition can be fatal and requires immediate medical attention.

  • Adjuvant

  • A substance (e.g. aluminum salt) that is added during production to increase the body's immune response to a vaccine.

  • Adverse Events

  • Undesirable experiences occurring after immunization that may or may not be related to the vaccine.

  • Advisory Committee On Immunization Practices (ACIP)

  • A panel of 10 experts who make recommendations on the use of vaccines in the United States. The panel is advised on current issues by representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Medical Association and others. The recommendations of the ACIP guide immunization practice at the federal, state and local level.

  • Allergy

  • A condition in which the body has an exaggerated response to a substance (e.g. food or drug). Also known as hypersensitivity.

  • Anthrax

  • An acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax most commonly occurs in hoofed mammals and can also infect humans.

  • Antibiotic

  • A substance that fights bacteria.

  • Antibody

  • A protein found in the blood that is produced in response to foreign substances (e.g. bacteria or viruses) invading the body. Antibodies protect the body from disease by binding to these organisms and destroying them.

  • Antigens

  • Foreign substances (e.g. bacteria or viruses) in the body that are capable of causing disease. The presence of antigens in the body triggers an immune response, usually the production of antibodies.

  • Antitoxin

  • Antibodies capable of destroying microorganisms including viruses and bacteria.

  • Antiviral

  • Literally 'against-virus' any medicine capable of destroying or weakening a virus.

  • Arthralgia

  • Joint pain.

  • Arthritis

  • A medical condition characterized by inflammation of the joints which results in pain and difficulty moving.

  • Association

  • The degree to which the occurrence of two variables or events is linked. Association describes a situation where the likelihood of one event occurring depends on the presence of another event or variable. However, an association between two variables does not necessarily imply a cause and effect relationship. The term association and relationship are often used interchangeably. See causal and temporal association.

  • Asthma

  • A chronic medical condition where the bronchial tubes (in the lungs) become easily irritated. This leads to constriction of the airways resulting in wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing and production of thick mucus. The cause of asthma is not yet known but environmental triggers, drugs, food allergies, exercise, infection and stress have all been implicated.

  • Asymptomatic Infection

  • The presence of an infection without symptoms. Also known as inapparent or subclinical infection.

  • Attenuated Vaccine

  • A vaccine in which live virus is weakened through chemical or physical processes in order to produce an immune response without causing the severe effects of the disease. Attenuated vaccines currently licensed in the United States include measles, mumps, rubella, polio, yellow fever and varicella. Also known as a live vaccine.

  • Autism

  • A chronic developmental disorder usually diagnosed between 18 and 30 months of age. Symptoms include problems with social interaction and communication as well as repetitive interests and activities. At this time, the cause of autism is not known although many experts believe it to be a genetically based disorder that occurs before birth.


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Immunization Terms






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