Bah, humbug. Just as the Harvey household was looking forward to a gathering of the clan to enjoy a slice of vegan surprise, freshly taken from the ‘meecrowarvay’ (the 2020 Monty Python Surreal Comedy award goes to Nigella), the latest rise in Covid cases means that we, like I assume most people, will ignore the government-approved super-spreading five-day event. Back on the Zoom.

On a recent Zoom session with my two brothers, the quiz question of the year was raised; what is the difference between vaccination and inoculation? It seems the two terms are often used interchangeably, but strictly speaking: Inoculation is the introduction of an antigen or a pathogen into a living organism (plant or animal). This may be to trigger an immune response (in which case it is acting as a vaccine) or to cause a disease for study, species control and so on. So, for example, a lethal injection by anthrax might be classed as an inoculation but not vaccination.

Vaccination, specifically relates to the introduction of a vaccine, something designed to trigger an immune response in the recipient. So, vaccination is inoculation with a vaccine.

Regarding etymology, the derivation of vaccine is from vache, the French word for cow, and dates from the initial cowpox inoculation of a small boy by Jenner after watching milkmaids. The derivation of ‘inoculation’ is of interest to ECPs. Its meaning in Latin is ‘into eye.’ In this sense, eye is used as when describing the eyes on a potato, where the word refers to a bud. An ancient form of inoculation involved introducing live matter into another species was grafting, as of placing the eye or bud of one plant onto another to trigger a new hybrid or variety. I hope this helps with Xmas Zoom quizzing?

Until the New Year, au revoir my fellow Europeans.