Active Immunity vs. Passive Immunity: Complete Comparison

Immunity to a certain disease occurs when a person has, through some method, antibodies from that disease to protect against it in the future. Antibodies are proteins that the body produces in order to neutralize toxins or organisms that carry diseases, and all antibodies are specific to a certain disease. 

There are two main types of immunity -- active and passive immunity -- and understanding the difference between these can allow you to be more informed about your health and wellbeing

That being said, it is firstly important to better understand the way your immune system works before delving into the complex topic of immunity. 

Overview of the Immune System

When your immune system encounters foreign, illness-causing antigens including viruses, bacteria, and fungi, it activates and begins to fight them off. 

Antigens are proteins that can be found on the surface of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and though your own cells also have proteins on their surface, your body does not fight them because they are recognized as being your own. 

That said, there are situations in which your immune system attacks healthy cells, and this is called an autoimmune response. People with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis experience this regularly. 

Innate Immunity

When it comes to the different types of immunity, innate immunity is the first line of defense against germs, and though it includes special cells and proteins that kill germs, the problem is that the germs are essentially “forgotten” after they are killed. This means that no information about the germ is communicated to the rest of the body, so if the germ does reinfect you, your body will not be prepared to defend against it with the knowledge it gained from fighting it the first time. 

This is why it is important to maintain a healthy, strong immune system in order to ward off germs in the first place. You can support your immune system by eating plenty of healthful, whole foods, and incorporating vitamin supplements for an extra boost. 

The GoBiotix Immunity Fizz Wellness Booster works to support your immune system by including key ingredients like elderberry, vitamin C, and turmeric. 

Prebiotics can also promote a healthy immune system by supporting your digestive system. 

Incorporating vitamins and supplements into your daily routine can help you up your defense, especially when cold and flu season comes around. 

You can also maintain a strong immune system by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, as well as getting regular exercise. Additionally, those who do not get enough sleep are prone to having weaker immune systems, so making sure to get those eight hours in every night can help build better defense against germs. 

Adaptive Immunity

Aside from innate immunity, your body also has adaptive immunity. Adaptive immunity is when your body builds protection against antigens that it recognizes. 

When your body does remember an antigen, it produces antibodies to fight it off, and the process of antibody creation can take around 14 days. The most important thing about antibodies is that once you have them, your body will use them every time the same antigen reappears. 

There are two types of adaptive immunity: active and passive.

Active Immunity

Simply put, active immunity has to do with the antibodies that naturally develop in your body. This can happen in two ways, either when you form antibodies after coming into contact with a disease, or when you develop antibodies once you receive a vaccine. 

The keyword here is that these are antibodies that you develop on your own. This kind of immunity is very long-lasting. 

For example, if you catch chickenpox, the active immunity you develop after the infection is lifelong. Comparatively, the active immunity you have after being sick with the flu will not last a lifetime because there are many different flu viruses, but it will offer you some protection when you encounter the flu again. 

How Do Vaccines Work?

As mentioned above, vaccines are a part of active immunity. Vaccines work in your body by essentially showing your body what the disease looks like so it can start building a plan around how it can protect itself -- almost like giving your immune system the answers to a test ahead of time. 

The vaccine itself contains antigens, which your immune system then recognizes as foreign. As a response, the immune system develops antibodies that neutralize the antigens, and then these antibodies are stored for future use. This way, if you are ever actually exposed to that disease, your body will be prepared to fight it. 

Passive Immunity

Passive immunity, on the other hand, is antibodies that are given to you. In other words, these antibodies are not developed within your body, but rather are introduced into your system from another source. 

For example, passive immunity can be passed from mother to child through the placenta, or it can also be given medically through blood products that contain certain antibodies. 

Compared to active immunity, passive immunity acts very quickly, but generally lasts only a few weeks or a few months. 

Knowing the ins and outs of your immune system, and the kinds of immunity you may or may not have, can help you make better choices when it comes to your health and wellness. 

Focusing on leading a healthy lifestyle can promote a stronger immune system, because when you make good choices for your body and mind, your immune system benefits, too. Active and passive immunity are only one part of your day-to-day defense, but having a more complete understanding of the way that these work can lead you to be more in touch with your body. 

Summary

Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against foreign antigens, and keeping your immune system strong and healthy is critical for good health and protection from germs, viruses, and bacteria.

Active immunity pertains to antibodies that your body develops on its own, like those that develop after you have been sick with a certain disease or those that are developed when you get vaccinated. 

Passive immunity, on the other hand, entails antibodies being given to you. This happens either through the placenta when a mother is still pregnant, thus passing along antibodies to her unborn child, or this can also take place during breastfeeding or even through an emergency injection given for an illness. Passive immunity also takes place if certain blood products are used that contain antibodies. 

Active and passive immunity are part of your body’s adaptive immune system, whereas the innate immune system is immune defense not specific to certain diseases (i.e. defenses that don’t need to learn or adapt because they already innately know what to do). 

Keeping your immune system strong strengthens your innate immunity, which means that your body will be able to fight off germs rather than becoming infected with them and then recognizing them again later on. 

You can maintain a strong and healthy immune system by eating healthy and incorporating vitamins and supplements like those offered by GoBiotix

Sources

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/immunity-types.htm

https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Health-Readiness/Immunization-Healthcare/Clinical-Consultation-Services/Immunology-Basics

https://www.healthline.com/health/active-vs-passive-immunity

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18045976/

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