Essential English Vaccine Vocabulary

It’s been well over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started. You’ve had to follow strict instructions, you’ve probably had all sorts of emotions, and you’ve tried to keep busy in many different ways.  

Now, there’s something else to think about: vaccines. 

Since they’re on everyone’s mind these days, let’s take some time to review a bit of vaccine vocabulary. 

Read the passage below, then scroll down to check your understanding!

Getting Vaccinated

Scientists began trying to develop a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as the pandemic started. Now, a variety of vaccines are available from pharmaceutical companies. Some countries are already providing them to citizens, while others are still planning their vaccine rollouts

The best way to eliminate the coronavirus is to vaccinate as many people as possible. If enough people get immunized, populations can achieve herd immunity, which will make everyone safer.

It’s common to be anxious about getting an injection—whether you’re afraid of having an adverse reaction or just don’t like needles, there are several reasons for vaccine hesitancy. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the vaccine if you’re able to. Coronavirus is very serious and can bring major complications, including chronic health problems. 

While certain people don’t want the COVID vaccine, others believe it should be mandatory. Many countries are likely going to require that people carry vaccine passports to prove that they’re immune . . . what do you think about that? 

How much did you understand? 

Read the definitions and examples below to check your comprehension!

1. Vaccine

→ (noun) A substance that protects against disease and that is usually given by injection

Scientists are now saying that giving people a combination of two different vaccines might offer the best protection against coronavirus.

2. Pharmaceutical company 

→ (noun) A business that makes and sells drugs

The pharmaceutical companies must be making a lot of money selling COVID-19 vaccines to different countries. 

3. Rollout

→ (noun) The introduction of a new service or product to the public 

People are angry at the government because the vaccine rollout has been very slow and they’re tired of waiting. 

4. Vaccinate

→ (verb) To give a vaccine to a person or animal

I was vaccinated against all the major childhood diseases when I was a baby.

5. Immunize

→ (verb) To give someone a vaccine; another word for “vaccinate”

I can’t wait to be immunized against COVID-19 so I can start going out again!

6. Herd immunity 

→ (noun) A decrease in the risk of spreading a disease, which happens when a large portion of a population becomes immune to that disease

A group of people can achieve herd immunity by getting vaccinated or by becoming infected with a disease and then recovering from it.

7. Anxious

→ (adjective) Afraid or nervous 

I always get really anxious the night before I have to take a big test. 

8. Injection

→ (noun) The process of putting a drug into someone’s body with a special needle

I was really nervous about getting vaccinated but the injection didn’t hurt at all. 

9. Adverse reaction

→ (noun) A dangerous or uncomfortable effect caused by taking a drug

Whenever my sister takes pain medication, she gets an adverse reaction like a headache or a rash on her skin.

10. Vaccine hesitancy

→ (noun) A situation in which someone delays or refuses vaccination 

A lot of vaccine hesitancy is caused by people sharing incorrect information on the internet.

11. Chronic 

→ (adjective) Continuing for a long time or happening repeatedly

My dad injured himself playing football when he was young and now he has chronic leg pain.

12. Mandatory

→ (adjective) Required; not optional 

Wearing a helmet when you ride a bicycle is mandatory in my city; you could get a police fine if you don’t put one on.

13. Vaccine passport

→ (noun) A document that shows you have been vaccinated so you can travel to other countries

Some people think a COVID vaccine passport will help keep the world safe; others feel that it’s not a good or fair idea. 

14. Immune

→ (adjective) Unable to be affected by a disease

Once we get the vaccine, will we be immune for life, or will we need another injection in the future?

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.