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Common Vaccine Abbreviations Explained

Vaccines save lives and prevent the spread of illness. But, it can be daunting to see a list of random letters and abbreviations when considering vaccines for yourself or your children. Read through a list of vaccine abbreviations and meanings to stay educated about your health options.

Woman receiving an injection in her armWoman receiving an injection in her arm

Live-Attenuated Vaccines

When you receive a live-attenuated vaccine, you’re receiving a weakened version of a live germ. The vaccine can’t make you sick with the disease; however, it does teach your body how to respond if you are exposed to the germ again. Some examples of live-attenuated vaccines include:

  • ACAM2000: Vaccinia Vaccine (Smallpox)

  • BCG: Bacille Calmette-Guérin Vaccine (Tuberculosis)

  • CVD 103-HgR: Classical V. Cholerae O1 Inaba 569B Strain (Cholera)

  • EVD: Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola)

  • LAIV: Influenza Vaccine (Flu vaccine nasal spray)

  • LAIV4: Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (Flu vaccine nasal spray)

  • MMR: Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine

  • MMRV: Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella (Chicken Pox) Vaccine

  • MR: Measles and Rubella Vaccine 

  • RV1: Monovalent Rotavirus Vaccine (Rotavirus)

  • RV5: Pentavalent Rotavirus Vaccine (Rotavirus)

  • Ty21a: Live Oral Typhoid Vaccine (Typhoid)

  • VAR: Varicella Vaccine (Chicken Pox)

  • YF: Yellow Fever

  • ZVL: Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles)

Inactivated Vaccines

If the germ in a vaccine is dead, it’s known as an inactivated vaccine. While these vaccines are effective in the short term, they require booster shots during a patient’s lifetime for long-term protection. Here are some abbreviations for common inactivated vaccines.

  • aIIV3: Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (Flu vaccine shot) 

  • ccIIV3: Cell-Culture Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (Cell-culture flu vaccine shot)

  • eIPV: Enhanced Inactivated Polio Vaccine (Polio)

  • HepA: Hepatitis A Vaccine

  • HDCV: Human Diploid Cell Vaccine (Rabies)

  • HD-IIV3: Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (Flu vaccine shot)

  • IPV: Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (Polio)

  • IIV: Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (Flu vaccine shot)

  • IIV3: Trivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (Flu vaccine shot)

  • IIV4: Quadrivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (Flu vaccine shot)

  • JE: Japanese Encephalitis (JE virus)

  • JE-VC: Vero cell culture-derived Japanese encephalitis vaccine (JE virus)

  • ViCPS: Vi Capsular Polysaccharide Vaccine (Typhoid)

Subunit, Recombinant, Polysaccharide, and Conjugate Vaccines

Pieces of a germ, such as its sugar or protein, are the key ingredients of subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines. Like inactivated vaccines, they require booster shots to remain effective throughout a patient’s lifetime. Vaccines in this category include:

  • HepB: Hepatitis B Vaccine

  • Hib: Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib disease)

  • HPV2: Human Papillomavirus, bivalent (HPV)

  • 2vHPV: Bivalent HPV vaccine

  • HPV4: Human Papillomavirus vaccine, quadrivalent 

  • 4vHPV: Quadrivalent HPV vaccine

  • 9vHPV: 9-valent HPV vaccine

  • MCV4: Quadrivalent Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (Meningococcal disease)

  • MenACWY-CRM: Quadrivalent Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (Meningococcal disease; patients 2 months and older)

  • MenACWY-D: Quadrivalent Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (Meningococcal disease; patients 9 months and older)

  • MenB: Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine (Meningococcal disease, type B)

  • MenB-FHbp: Serogroup B Meningococcal Factor H Binding Protein Vaccine (Meningococcal disease, type B)

  • MenB-4C: Multicomponent Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine (Meningococcal disease, type B)

  • MPSV4: Quadrivalent Meningococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (Meningococcal disease)

  • P: Pertussis Vaccine (Whooping Cough)

  • PCV13 : 13-valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (Pneumococcal disease)

  • PPSV23: 23-valent Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (Pneumococcal disease)

  • PRP-OMP: Polyribosylribitol Phosphate-Outer Membrane Protein Conjugate Vaccine (Hib disease)

  • PRP-T: Polyribosylribitol Phosphate-Tetanus Conjugate Vaccine (Hib disease)

  • RIV3: Trivalent Recombinant Influenza Vaccine (Flu vaccine shot)

  • RIV4: Quadrivalent Recombinant Influenza Vaccine (Flu vaccine shot)

  • RZV: Recombinant Zoster Vaccine (Shingles)

Toxoid Vaccines

When germs cause a disease, they create a product known as a toxin in the human body. These toxins can be used in vaccines to train a patient’s immune system to respond to the toxins in a disease rather than the whole germ. Here are abbreviations for common toxoid vaccines:

  • AVA: Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (Anthrax)

  • DT: Diphtheria and Tetanus Vaccine (for children)

  • DTaP: Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (Whooping Cough) vaccine (for children)

  • Td: Tetanus and Diphtheria Vaccine (for adults)

  • Tdap :Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Acellular Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccine (for adults)

Diseases Without Vaccines

Any disease that leaves survivors with lifetime immunity can be developed into a vaccine. Some world diseases could have effective vaccines on the market once scientists successfully develop and test them. These diseases include:

  • West Nile Virus

  • Zika Virus

  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus

  • MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)

  • Lyme Disease

  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

However, many diseases, such as HIV, do not fit this criterion because survivors do not have lifetime immunity. Malaria, Hepatitis C, and tuberculosis are examples of diseases that survive in patients’ bodies long after recovery, though low funding for their vaccines prevents widespread implementation. Cancer is another disease without a current vaccine, although vaccines for HPV can prevent cervical cancer.

Read More Medical Resources

If you’ve got more abbreviations to decipher on your medical chart, we’ve got more resources for you. Check out a list of common blood test abbreviations that you may see in your next medical results. Or, if you’re confused about your doctor’s instructions, read through a selection of prescription abbreviations to clear them up.

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