Medical Abbreviations and Acronyms for Vaccines

Young Boy Holding Immunization Record in Doctor's Office
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Vaccine records can be challenging to interpret when abbreviations or acronyms are used. Standard abbreviations are often similar to each other, so it might not be clear which immunization an acronym or abbreviation is referring to.

Understanding common vaccine abbreviations can help you make sure your immunizations and your child's immunizations are up-to-date, and it can also help you when filling out required forms.

Vaccine List

Common vaccines that you might see on your own or on your child's immunization record include:

  • DTaP: Diphteria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis vaccine
  • DTaP-IPV: Diphtheria, tetanus, toxoids, acellular pertussis, inactivated poliovirus vaccine (Quadracel, Kinrix)
  • DTP: Diphteria, tetanus, and whole-cell pertussis vaccine
  • DT: Pediatric diphteria and tetanus vaccine, usually used for for kids too young to get a Td
  • HepA: Hepatitis A vaccine (Havrix and Vaqta)
  • HepB: Hepatitis B vaccine
  • HepB-IPV: Hepatitis B and inactivated poliovirus vaccine
  • Hib: Haemophilus influenzae type B conjugate vaccine
  • HPV: Human papillomavirus vaccine
  • HPV2: Bivalent HPV vaccine (Cervarix)
  • HPV4: Quadrivalent HPV vaccine
  • HPV9: Noavalent HPV vaccine (Gardasil)
  • IPV: Inactivated poliovirus vaccine
  • IIV: Inactivated influenza vaccine
  • IIV3: Inactivated influenza vaccine, trivalent
  • IIV4: Inactivated influenza vaccine, quadrivalent
  • LAIV: Live, attenuated flu vaccine such as FluMist
  • MenB: Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines (Bexsero and Trumenba)
  • MMR: Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine
  • MMRV: Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccine (ProQuad)
  • MCV4: Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra and Menveo)
  • MPSV4: Menningococcal polysaccaride vaccine (quadrivalent)
  • MPSV4: Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Menomune)
  • OPV: Oral polio vaccine
  • PCV: Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar)
  • PCV7: 7 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar 7)
  • PCV13: 13 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar 13)
  • PPSV23: Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Pneumovax 23)
  • Rota: Rotavirus vaccine
  • RV: Rotavirus vaccine
  • RV1: Monovalent rotavirus vaccine (Rotarix)
  • RV5: Pentavalent rotavirus vaccine (RotaTeq)
  • TIV: Trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (a flu shot)
  • Tdap: Tetanus, diphtheria toxoids, and acellular pertussis vaccine (Boostrix and Adacel)
  • Td: Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, used as a tetanus booster shot
  • VAR: Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine (Varivax)

Other Vaccine Abbreviations

The method of administration or the site on the body where a vaccine is given to a child is often abbreviated in the medical records.

Routes of vaccine administration:

  • IM: Intramuscular injection, which usually uses a needle placed in a large muscle, such as in the thigh or upper arm.
  • Sub Q, SQ or SC: Subcutaneous injection, which is a superficial injection in which the needle is injected in an angled or almost horizontal position, just beneath the skin.
  • PO: A vaccine that is given orally, by mouth.
  • IN: Intranasally, an uncommon type of vaccine administration route.

Common locations for vaccine injections can include:

  • RA (right arm)
  • LA (left arm)
  • RT (right thigh)
  • LT (left thigh)

Some Definitions

There are also a few terms that are commonly used in vaccination records.

  • Live attenuated vaccines: These are vaccines produced from a harmful infectious agent that is weakened. These vaccinations can provide lasting immunity, but they may be unsafe if you have a weakened immune system.
  • Inactivated vaccines: Vaccines produced by an inactivated version of the infection-producing microorganism.
  • Conjugate vaccines: These vaccines use a part of the infectious agent, which can be derived from the microorganism, or artificially produced, to elicit the immune response against the organism.
  • Toxoid vaccines: These vaccines use parts of the harmful toxin that is produced by a microorganism, rather than the microorganism itself, to create immunity against the harmful toxin. This is used with tetanus and diphtheria vaccines.
  • Bivalent vaccines: A bivalent vaccine targets against two strains of a microorganism, a quadravalent against four strains, and a noavalent against nine strains.
  • Herd Immunity: This describes the concept that a disease is less prevalent, and therefore less likely to spread when more people are vaccinated. People who have a weak immune system, such as people who are being treated for cancer, who have certain types of blood cancers, premature babies, and individuals with conditions such as HIV, are more likely to catch an infectious disease even if they have been immunized.
  • Side effects: A side effect is an event that may occur after exposure to any medical treatment, such as a vaccine. Common side effects include pain at the injection site, redness, soreness, and a sense of feeling "run down."
  • Adverse event: An adverse event is a bad outcome after a medical treatment. Generally, adverse events are not as common as side effects and can be more severe. An allergy to an immunization would be considered an adverse event.

A Word From Verywell

Immunizations are considered one of the greatest breakthroughs in medical science, preventing a number of deadly diseases and controlling dangerous epidemics. They are considered safe, and if you have any concerns, you should try to learn as much as you can about vaccines and their history.

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Article Sources
  • CDC. ACIP Abbreviations for Vaccines.
  • CDC. General Recommendations on Immunization. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). January 28, 2011 / 60(RR02);1-60.