Active v. Passive v. Acquired Immunity

On Basic Epidemiology and Public Health


Active Immunity develops after exposure to a disease-causing infectious microorganism or other foreign substance, such as following infection or vaccination.

Acquired Immunity develops during a person’s lifetime. There are two types of acquired immunity: active immunity and passive immunity.


Passive Immunity develops after a person receives immune system components, most commonly antibodies, from another person. Passive immunity can occur naturally, such as when an infant receives a mother’s antibodies through the placenta or breast milk, or artificially, such as when a person receives antibodies in the form of an injection (gamma globulin injection). Passive immunity provides immediate protection against an antigen, but does not provide long-lasting protection.


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