My pedantry about vaccination and immunisation | shoutout @sciencesarah | Custard apple | shoutout @SybariticaBlog

Over the last week as part of my regular blog reading I’ve commented on a couple of blogs.

The first was on Science for Life. 365 which is a post a day blog by an Australian scientist and writer Sarah Keenihan. On Day 257. Killing smallpox and parasites Sarah wrote about her vaccination in Canada before coming to live in Australia. I made a comment about being vaccinated and vaccinating others and mentioned my pedantic habit of referring to vaccination in the context of smallpox immunisation and immunisation for everything else. To me Edward Jenner vaccinated with cowpox (Vaccinia virus). The process was immunisation and vaccination specifically refers to using Vaccinia virus (or a derivative) to immunise against smallpox. I once explained this to a work colleague and she told me I was wrong. She said I didn’t understand vaccination is universally accepted as the term to protect people by stimulating their immune systems and had nothing to do with smallpox. I didn’t say anything. She didn’t have a science background and it wasn’t worth an argument. When I was a lot younger I recall the early iterations of the Australian Immunisation Handbook had an explanatory footnote on the difference between immunisation and vaccination. It last appeared in the sixth edition. I’ve scanned the relevant pages and made them available in this link. I think in earlier iterations the explanation was different.

The second blog I commented on was Sybaritica by John Thompson who lives in Canada, practices law, travels the court circuit of regional and remote Canada and seems to be more Chinese than me. Recently John posted about custard apples and it made me think back to my childhood growing up in Brisbane and being an avid fan. It’s been a long time since I had a custard apple even though they’re readily available. I made a comment on John’s blog and mentioned that I didn’t recall them being that laden with seeds. I saw one in the supermarket on the weekend and knew I had to buy one.

#dinner Custard apple or Cherimoya 😃 #yummy

A post shared by Gary Lum (@garydlum) on

The one I bought had lots of seeds. Perhaps as a child I swallowed them all 🙂 Anyway, it was delicious.

Good night.

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18 thoughts on “My pedantry about vaccination and immunisation | shoutout @sciencesarah | Custard apple | shoutout @SybariticaBlog

  1. So the 1997 NHMRC guidelines give two meanings to the word “vaccination” and you choose to accept the first one. Am I following this train of thought correctly?

  2. Pingback: Day 261. Vaccination versus immunisation | Science for Life. 365

  3. Thanks for going at length to explain the difference between vaccination and immunization, because I always go for conceptual clarity. As for the custard apples, the Australian ones are the best, big and “meaty”, but they always have seeds as far as I can remember. 🙂

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