Medical Definition of Immunity, active

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Immunity, active: The production of antibodies against a specific agent by the immune system. Active immunity can be acquired in two ways, by contracting an infectious disease such as chickenpox or by receiving a vaccination such as against chickenpox. Active immunity is usually permanent. The individual is protected from the disease all their life.

Active immunity is in contrast to passive immunity which results from the transfer to an individual of antibodies produced by another individual. Passive immunity is limited and diminishes over time (usually a few weeks or months). For example, antibodies are passed from the mother to the baby before birth. These antibodies temporarily protect the baby for the first 4-6 months of life.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018