FACT CHECK: Did Merriam-Webster Remove Any Mention Of ‘Immunity’ From Its Definition Of ‘Vaccine’?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Instagram claims the Merriam-Webster dictionary changed its definition of the word “vaccine” to remove any mention of “immunity.”

Verdict: Misleading

Merriam-Webster’s definition of “vaccine” has changed, but the current definition still mentions the concept of immunity.

Fact Check:

The Instagram post claims Merriam-Webster removed the term “immunity” from its definition of “vaccine,” and that this change was done to “possibly cover for the fact that the Covid ‘vaccines’ don’t actually provide immunity from Covid.”

While an examination of archived versions of Merriam-Webster’s definition of “vaccine” reveals slight changes have been made to it, the current definition still mentions the concept of immunity. As of press time, a “vaccine” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a preparation that is administered (as by injection) to stimulate the body’s immune response against a specific infectious agent or disease.” This definition includes a link to the definition of “immune response,” which provides a more in-depth explanation of how vaccines work.

The earliest iteration of the definition found in online archives is from 2006 and defines a vaccine as “a preparation of killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or living fully virulent organisms that is administered to produce or artificially increase immunity to a particular disease.” (RELATED: Viral Image Claims COVID-19 Stands For ‘Certificate Of Vaccination Identification’)

Peter Sokolowski, the editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster said in a statement provided to Check Your Fact that the previous definition was changed earlier this year to better describe how vaccines work. “Merriam-Webster adds definitions and evolves existing ones to accurately report on how words are used,” said Sokolowski. “In this case the definition was updated, in May of this year, to better describe how vaccines work.”

The CDC states that the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized or approved by the CDC are a safe and effective way to combat the spread of COVID-19. “COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19,” reads a section of the CDC’s website. “It typically takes 2 weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter