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Glossary of COVID-19 Terms and Phrases

This resource is intended for APIAHF partner organizations, community members, state and local health departments, and other community-based organizations seeking COVID-19 terms, phrases, and specific terminology for developing and creating in-language materials for Asian American communities. Users can scroll through the respective language table and find translated terms and phrases in Korean, Bengali, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Vietnamese.

This resource is updated on a rolling basis and was last updated on August 17, 2021.

For technical assistance on how to use the glossary and to request additional terms, please contact APIAHF.


A person who does not report or appear to have any symptoms or signs of illness (4).
Community health worker:
A frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of a community or who has a thorough understanding of the community being served (1).
Confirmed COVID-19 Case:
Report of a person with COVID-19 and meeting confirmatory laboratory evidence (3).
Efficacy Rate:
A measure used to describe how good a vaccine is at preventing disease.
Having come into contact with a cause of, or possessing a characteristic that is a determinant of, a particular health problem (3).
Law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, and emergency management officials (3).
Health Clinics:
Are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver comprehensive, culturally competent, high-quality primary health care services to the nation’s most vulnerable individuals and families, including people experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers, residents of public housing, and veterans.
Healthcare Personnel:
People serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials, including body substances; contaminated medical supplies, devices, and equipment; contaminated environmental services; or contaminated air (3).
Protection against a disease.
The process of being made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. It implies that you have had an immune response.
Incubation Period:
Period of time between exposure to an infection and onset of symptoms (3).
Incubation period:
The time from contact with infectious agents (bacteria or viruses) to onset of disease.
Capable of spreading disease.
The separation of a person or group of people known or reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease and potentially infectious from those who are not infected to prevent spread of the communicable disease (3).
Multigenerational Household:
Households that consist of more than two generations living under the same roof (3).
The occurrence of cases of disease in excess of what would normally be expected in a defined community, geographical area, and/or season, but in lower than epidemic numbers.
Probable COVID-19 Case:
Report of person meeting clinical and epidemiologic evidence of COVID-19 but without confirmatory laboratory evidence (3).
The separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic from others who have not been so exposed to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease (3).
Side Effect:
Undesirable reaction resulting from immunization.
Social distancing:
The practice of increasing the space between individuals and decreasing their frequency of contact to reduce the risk of spreading a disease; ideally to maintain at least 6 feet between all individuals, even those who are asymptomatic (4).
Unprotected against disease.
Showing signs of disease or injury, or it may concern a specific symptom (5).
Vaccine Efficacy:
Refers to vaccine protection measured in RCTs usually under optimal conditions where vaccine storage and delivery are monitored and participants are usually healthy.
Vaccine confidence:
The trust that patients, their families, and providers have in: Recommended vaccines; providers who administer vaccines; and processes and policies that lead to vaccine development, licensure or authorization, manufacturing, and recommendations for use (2).
When a virus enters a host, it invades cells and creates more copies of itself. Every time this happens, its genetic material can change through mutations. A mutated virus results in a variant. New variants of any virus, including COVID-19, are expected.
A tiny organism that multiplies within cells and causes disease such as chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis and hepatitis. Viruses are not affected by antibiotics, the drugs used to kill bacteria.
Messenger RNA, or mRNA, is genetic material that tells your body how to make proteins.

1. American Public Health Association. (n.d.). Community Health Workers. AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH


2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 3). Building Confidence in COVID-19

Vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.,%2C%20and%20recommendations%20for%20use.


3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Appendices. Centers for Disease Control and


4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Guidance on Management of Coronavirus Disease

2019 (COVID-19) in Correctional and Detention Facilities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, July 2). Symptomatic: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.


This resource is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $3,300,000 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.
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