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Immunization, Active Immunity and Passive Immunity
During the natural process of infection, our immune system not only aims to destroy that particular pathogenic infection but it also mounts a defensive response in case the body is ever reinfected with that same type of pathogen. That is, our body produces memory cells that contain antibodies that are specific to that the particular infecting pathogenic. These memory cells usually remain within the individual for the rest of their lives. This process in which our body learns from its first infection and creates memory cells in case reinfection is known as active immunity. Active immunity can also be induced via artificial means. Immunization is the process by which we confer active immunity onto an individual via the process of vaccination. A vaccine usually contains an inoculated version of a pathogen or a small part of their antigen (epitope). When injected into the body, it causes the adaptive immune system to create memory cells but it does not elicit the same severe effects that a natural infection would. Another type of temporary immunity is called passive immunity. In passive immunity, antibodies are injected into the body and are allowed to circulate through the blood and lymph system. If they come across their antigen counterpart, they will bind onto it and cause a defense immune response. Passive immunity can be given either artificially (produced in a laboratory) or naturally (mother to child via the placenta or breastmilk). Unlike active immunity, passive immunity does not produce memory cells and therefore only lasts several months.
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