NUVA - Unified Nomenclature of Vaccines


The Unified Nomenclature of Vaccines (NUVA) is used to gather vaccination trails from digital or physical sources. The purpose is to build a comprehensive vaccination history, as precise as allowed by the sources and interpretable by information systems.

Data description

The nomenclature consists of :

  • Core concepts: vaccines and valences
  • Binding concepts: target diseases and external codes
The binding concepts represent concepts present into other terminologies. They are embedded to allow the completeness of a standalone release of NUVA while supporting the binding towards these external concepts.


The valence is the minimal functional unit to characterize a vaccine. The most explicit ones represent a combination of antigens for a same target disease and a dose. For example, for pertussis, you will have the valences:

  • aP: acellular pertussis, standard dose
  • ap: acellular pertussis, low dose
  • wP: whole cell pertussis

The granularity of valences is adapted to the real-world production of vaccines. There is no need to create individual valences for antigens aiming at variants of a same disease that are always associated. Beyond the valences for known vaccines there are abstract valences, that correspond to vaccination trails with a degraded information. For example, we add to the three valences above the abstract valences:

  • Per: Pertussis valence, unspecified
  • Acel: Acellular pertussis vaccine, dose unspecified

Abstract valences are presented as parents of the real valences that they could represent.

Concept codes for valences are formed as VALxxx, where xxx is a three digits number.

Immunoglobins against vaccine preventable diseases are encoded as valences since their delivery impacts the vaccination strategy.


Vaccines codes represent the vaccination trails at their best precision level:

  • A fully qualified product (BOOSTRIXTETRA)
  • A combination of valences (Tdap)
  • A target disease (vaccine against rabies)

Contrary to valences, vaccines are not represented as a hierarchy, there are all immediate descendants of the Vaccine concept.

When a same product is commercialised in different territories under different brand names (such as BOOSTRIXTETRA, POLIO BOOSTRIX and BOOSTRIX-POLIO), since the production conditions may differ, one vaccine code is attributed for each brand name.

For a fully qualified product, the label is unique, not associated with a specific language, and matches the vaccine brand name.

For a combination of valences or a target disease, there is a label for each language.

Concept codes for vaccines are formed as VACxxxx, where xxxx is a 4 digits number.

Target diseases

Target diseases represent the vaccine preventable diseases and are bound to valences.

All target disease concepts are immediate descendants of the Disease concept.

The concept code for a disease is Dx/Dxx where x/xx is a one or two digits number.

Its only attributes is its label, expressed in several languages.

External Codes

External codes correspond to the representation of the vaccines in other code systems. They are organised per code system.

A same vaccine may match several external codes from different code systems, such as pharmaceutical codes (CIS, CIP, PZN, CNK, etc.), logistical codes (GTIN), international vaccine codes (SNOMED-CT, ATC) or national vaccine codes (CVX, THL Rokotevalmisteet, etc.).

For a given external code there is one and only one vaccine code, corresponding to the same level of precision.

The concept code for an external code is CSYS-Code, where CSYS identifies the code system and Code is the code value.