Difference Between Inoculation and Vaccination

Inoculation and vaccination are two closely related terms. Sometimes they are used interchangeably. Inoculation has a broader meaning compared to vaccination. However, depending on the situation inoculation could mean vaccination. In such cases both are considered as artificial induction of immunity.


Inoculation has various meanings. The term comes from Middle English “inoculaten” which means grafting a plant part to another plant. One definition for inoculation is that it is introducing or placing something which will grow or reproduce. Inoculation of a vaccine or an antigenic substance is also common. This type of inoculation is done to increase immunity towards a specific disease.

In the microbiological definition, inoculation is introducing microorganisms or infectious material to a culture medium. If taken in the microbiological sense, microorganism, which is being inoculated, is called the inoculant. The medium, which is used for inoculation, is called the inoculum. Inoculation is used in microbiology to culture and subculture various microorganisms. Sometimes inoculation is done on to laboratory animals under controlled conditions. One such incident is inoculating viruses because viruses only grow in living cells. If the inoculation is done to the body, which is to boost immunity it is considered as immunization. One way of doing it is through vaccination. This is when inoculation means vaccination. Both inoculation and vaccination can be considered as “artificial methods of inducing immunity”.


Vaccination is introducing immunogens to the body in order to stimulate the immune system to produce more antibodies, to fight infections. It is the most efficient and widely used method of immunization. This method has helped people to fight dangerous diseases. Vaccines such as small pox, measles, tetanus, and polio are very popular and effective examples for the above mentioned mission and are used throughout the world.

The word vaccination comes from Latin word “vacca”, which stands for cow. The reason behind this interesting origin is that the first ever vaccine made was from a virus affecting cows. Vaccination is essential for it gives the body a chance to produce antibodies and be prepared with a memory if a natural pathogenic attack occurs. The method is efficient because then it requires less time to produce antibodies to fight the germs. Some vaccines are also given after contracting the disease.

Most vaccines are given as injections, and some are given orally. Polio and cholera vaccines are good examples for orally given vaccines. Depending on the type, 4 vaccination classes could be identified. Some vaccines contain killed bacteria or virus. Some contain attenuated live virus or bacteria. Some vaccines may contain a part of the virus or bacteria such as protein capsid or a bacterial cell wall. Some vaccines contain isolated compounds or secretions such as bacterial toxins.

What is the difference between Inoculation and Vaccination?

• Inoculation has a broader meaning than vaccination.

• Inoculation done in order to achieve immunization is called vaccination. This makes vaccination a sub method of inoculation.

• Inoculation is also used in microbiology. This has no resemblance what so ever to vaccination.