The immune system works hard to protect us against diseases and infections that would jeopardize our well-being and quality of life. We are exposed to all sorts of pathogens every day. They are sneaky and may attempt to enter the body, but that’s where immune defenses step in. The immune response is a complicated process, mostly because there are two kinds of immunity. Both active and passive types are necessary for good health and proper functioning of the body. But what sets them apart or makes them similar to one another? Read on to learn more about active vs. passive immunity and how they work.

What is immunity?

Immunity is defined as the body’s ability to prevent the invasion of pathogens i.e. foreign disease-causing substances such as viruses and bacteria. There are two types of immunity, active and passive.

Active vs. passive immunity will be discussed further below.

Immunity fights microbes[1] or germs in the tissues of the body, bodily fluids such as blood, or the skin. The immune system is, in fact, a complex network of B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes (types of white blood cells), organs, chemicals, and proteins (antibodies). Bone marrow, spleen, thymus (a gland in the chest that makes T-lymphocytes or T-cells), and lymphatic system are all involved in the functioning of immunity.

The immune system comprises two parts: the innate and acquired immune system. The innate immune system is nonspecific and it is the first line of defense against pathogens that enter the body. The acquired immune system is specific in the way it tailors its response to the threat.

How does the immune system work?

The immune system works to protect the body from infection by recognizing bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. It produces antibodies that neutralize threat, but preserve the body’s own cells and tissues. The immune system keeps a log or a record of every pathogen it has defeated. If that pathogen enters the body again, the immune system remembers it and launches defenses to beat it again. According to a paper[2] from The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the immune system relies on several mechanisms to tackle infection caused by microbes. These mechanisms work together to provide the best defense. In fact, the fully integrated immune response draws elements from various effectors systems to tailor a response to the invading pathogen.

What is active immunity?

Active immunity is a type of immunity that is acquired through exposure to all or a part of a specific pathogen. Exposure to a disease organism induces the production of antibodies to that specific illness. It is a type of acquired immune system.

Active immunity relies on cytotoxic T-cells, TH1, and TH2 cells, and activated B cells to launch defense against infection from multiple angles. Cytotoxic T-cells neutralize the infected cells and immunoglobulin produced by B-cells target antigens in the bloodstream in order to prevent them from reaching their target cells and causing disease or infection, according to a post[3] on the website of the National Library of Medicine.

What is passive immunity?

Passive immunity is a type of immunity that develops when a person is given serum lymphocytes i.e. antibodies to a specific disease or infection rather than producing them through their own immune system. More precisely, building this form of immune protection doesn’t require an intervention from immune cells. It is a type of acquired immunity. A person can develop passive immune defenses from a highly vaccinated individual.

This type of immunity serves as a good way to build resistance without the need to wait for active immunity responses to show up. It doesn’t require previous exposure to the disease agent and works without delay.

Two types of active immunity

Two distinct types of active immunity are natural and vaccine-induced immunity. Natural immunity is acquired from exposure to the disease organism through infection with that specific disease. Upon exposure to a pathogen, a person develops a disease and becomes immune to it due to a primary immune response. Vaccine-induced immunity results from the introduction of a weakened or neutralized form of the pathogenic organism through a vaccine. For that reason, vaccine-induced immunity is referred to as artificial immunity. In other words, the body is given immunity to a specific infection or disease by intentional exposure to the small quantities of pathogenic organism that causes it.

Active and passive immunity

Difference between active and passive immunity

The difference between these two types of immunity is in their mechanisms of action and the process through which the body acquires them. Active immune defenses result from the stimulation of a person’s immunity to produce lymphocytes or antibodies. On the other hand, in passive immune defenses, a person obtains lymphocytes or antibodies from another individual’s immunity.

While passive immune defenses are developed almost instantly, it may take a while (up to several weeks) to build active defenses of the immune system. Active vs. passive immunity differences also extend to length of protection; while the passive type lasts only for a few weeks, the active kind is long-lasting.

Production mechanism is also a major point of difference between the two types of immune defenses. While the host’s immune system actively produces active immune defenses, in the passive type the process is invisible.

In the active type, the antibodies are generated by an infection or immunogens, but in passive immunity, antibodies are conveyed directly. For the purpose of building active defenses of immunity, exposure to antigen is required, but that’s not the case for its passive counterpart.

Active immune responses produce memory meaning the body will remember the specific pathogen and launch a defense against it the next time it enters the system. That doesn’t happen in passive immunities i.e. memory is not produced.

Although both types of immunity can be natural and artificial, the processes are entirely different. In the active type natural immunity results from clinical infection, but in the passive kind it occurs due to the transfer of antibodies through the placenta. Artificial immune defenses result from immunity produced by vaccines in the active type, but in the passive type, they result from injecting antibodies[4].

Active immune defense protects against microbes, but passive counterparts are less effective in offering complete protection. In immune-deficient people, the active type of immunity is not applicable, but passive is.

When it comes to active vs. passive immunity, the subsequent doses of antigen cause a booster effect in the active type, but in passive the subsequent doses are less effective due to immune elimination.

Speaking of differences, many items on the market can boost functioning of active type, but not passive. Gummies are a good example. Before purchasing check out Active Immunity Gummies Review.

Examples of active immunity and passive immunity

Good examples of active immunity are cases when a person develops this kind of immune defense due to vaccination or exposure to a certain pathogen. For instance, a person is exposed to flu or cold and may develop immunity that protects them for a while. Or they become exposed to COVID-19, get sick, and develop antibodies that protect them against future infection for some time. Vaccines work the same way. A person receives a vaccine containing a part of the pathogen and develops antibodies that work against that specific threat.

Keep in mind that vaccines help build active types of immunity, but products such as gummies don’t do that. Their purpose is to strengthen immune functions so they can keep a person healthier.

Before buying such products, make sure to find active immunity gummies reviews to see the experiences of other users and whether they noticed any improvement.

Passive immunity is more complicated. An infant may acquire passive immune defenses through the placenta from its mother. The antibodies created in a mother’s body pass onto the child thereby building their immune defenses. Maternal antibodies found in breast milk or placenta help babies stay healthy.

At the same time, people can get passive immune defenses through products that contain antibodies, which may be given when they need for artificial immunity or immediate protection against a certain infection. Good examples are shots for hepatitis, rabies, or tetanus, all of which provide quick, but temporary protection, especially in immunodeficient individuals.

Passive immunity

Frequently asked questions

What type of immunity is a vaccination?

Vaccination contributes to active immunity against a specific disease. Vaccines help the body learn how to defend itself. While vaccines don’t cause a disease or infection, they can imitate it. They contain an active ingredient, which is always an antigen. The term antigen refers to any substance that causes the immune system to produce antibodies to build a defense against it. Antigens in vaccines are killed or weakened bacteria or viruses, bacterial toxins treated to make them non-toxic, or bits of bacteria’s or virus’ exterior surface or their genetic material.

The main purpose of vaccination is to stimulate a response from the immune system (artificial immunity) in order to create a “memory” that helps protect the body against specific diseases. Once the body produces antibodies as a response to the antigen from the vaccine, it also generates antibody-producing memory cells. These cells remain alive even when antibodies defeat pathogens. Protection from vaccines may last a lifetime[5], depending on the type of vaccine or illness against which it is supposed to protect. Products like gummies and supplements don’t work the same way as vaccines, but they can contribute to strengthening immune systems, as active immunity gummies review suggests.

What is the difference between immunity and immunization?

The difference between immunity and immunization is in their function or role. Immunity is the body’s defense mechanism against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Immunization is the process of developing artificial immunity.

CDC explains[6] that immunization is the process of becoming protected against a disease through vaccination. However, the term is often used interchangeably with other terms such as immunity or vaccination, which is wrong. Vaccination is the act of introducing a vaccine into the body with the purpose to produce protection against a specific pathogen.

When a person gets immunized, their body is tricked into believing it has been infected with a disease. As a result, it produces antibodies to neutralize the “invaders”. This exact process through which the body learns to build a defense against a pathogen is immunization. The result of immunization is a developed immunity or defense mechanism through which the body will protect itself from infections or diseases.

One important point in active vs. passive immunity discussion is that immunization may play a role in both.

What are the active and passive immunity similarities?

Similarities between active and passive immunity are numerous, including the fact that both are acquired immunities. Yet another similarity between these immunities is that they can be natural and artificial. Both types of immune defenses involve lymphocytes. Moreover, the antimicrobial components in both active and passive immunities are antibodies. Antigens induce both types of immune defenses. Also, both immune systems are specific.

Although active vs. passive immunity differences are widely discussed, little is known about their similarities. Learning their similarities is important because it’s easier to understand the differences between the two. For example, both types of immune defenses include antibodies. However, the process is different. In the active type, the production of antibodies results from infection or immunogens, but in its passive counterpart the antibodies aren’t produced; they are transferred directly.

When it comes to similarities between these types of immune defenses, the biggest similarity is that both of them are necessary for the body’s health and well-being.

Why is passive immunity necessary?

Passive immunity is necessary because it contributes to short-term protection against infection. Additionally, this form of immune defense provides immediate protection that helps the body resist the invasion of pathogens. Although this type of immunity is temporary or short-term, it is still capable of protecting us while its active counterpart is developing.

Infants are a good example. Their immune defenses are still developing, so the maternal passive immunity protects the newborn until their own immunity is mature enough to protect them.

The quick-acting nature is the reason why passive immunization is utilized in situations when the risk of infection is high, but there is not enough time for the body to develop its own immune response. Since the protection this type of immune defense provides is short-term, it is easy to assume it is less important than active immunity, but the reality is different.

The body needs protection instantly upon invasion by pathogens while it’s building stronger defense mechanisms, which is what active vs. passive immunity is all about.


There is no winner or loser in the active vs. passive immunity discussion. Our body needs both forms of immunity for proper functioning against potential threats and invaders. While the passive type of immunity is acquired under specific circumstances, the active kind develops due to exposure to a pathogen or after vaccination so there’s a lot a person can do to strengthen the underlying mechanisms.

Products such as gummies are easily available and they may be convenient. But it is important to check out the active immunity gummies review to get a glimpse at how they work or if you could find them beneficial.