Strengthening Acquired Immunity: Steps Towards a Healthy Life Free from Infection

What is acquired immunity?

Acquired immunity, also known as adaptive immunity, is a complex system your body develops throughout your life to fight off specific pathogens (germs) like bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Unlike innate immunity, which you're born with, acquired immunity is specific and builds up over time as you're exposed to different illnesses.
Here's a breakdown of acquired immunity:

Types of Acquired Immunity:

  • Active immunity: This is when you develop immunity after being exposed to a weakened or inactive form of a pathogen through:
  • Vaccination: Vaccines introduce a weakened or inactive form of a virus or bacteria, training your body to recognize and fight the real thing.
  • Natural infection: When you get sick, your body develops immunity to that specific illness.
  • Passive immunity: This is when you receive antibodies from another source, providing temporary protection:
  • Maternal antibodies: Newborns receive antibodies from their mothers through breast milk.
  • Immune globulin: This is a concentrated antibody solution that can be given to provide temporary protection against specific diseases.

How Acquired Immunity Works:

  • Exposure: When a new pathogen enters your body, your immune system identifies it as foreign.
  • Activation: White blood cells called lymphocytes (B cells and T cells) are activated.
  • Antibody Production: B cells produce antibodies that are specific to the pathogen.
  • Memory: Some B cells become memory B cells, which can quickly produce antibodies if you encounter the same pathogen again.
  • Attack: Antibodies attach to the pathogen, making it easier for other immune cells to destroy it.

Importance of Acquired Immunity:

  • Protects you from serious illnesses.
  • Reduces the severity of infections.
  • Helps control the spread of infectious diseases through herd immunity (when a large portion of the population is immune).

Examples of Acquired Immunity:

  • Immunity to chickenpox after getting the chickenpox vaccine or having the disease.
  • Immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) after vaccination.
  • Immunity to the flu after getting a flu shot (although the effectiveness can vary depending on the flu strain).

In conclusion, acquired immunity is a remarkable defense system your body develops to fight off infections and keep you healthy. Through vaccination and a healthy lifestyle, you can help strengthen your acquired immunity and reduce your risk of getting sick.