Immunity

Immunity is a person's resistance to (or protection from) a disease. A person may be born with temporary protection from certain diseases, or a person may be protected after having an infection or immunization (vaccination).

Immunity occurs because the body's immune system recognizes a foreign substance (such as a virus or bacteria) as potentially harmful and sends antibodies (proteins made by the immune system) to destroy it.

Immunity may be temporary or permanent, depending on the nature of the disease, how the person became immune, and other factors. For instance, some vaccines give a person lifelong immunity against a disease and only have to be given one time. Others have to be given on a regular schedule (every 10 years, for example) because they do not provide permanent immunity. Partial immunity implies some degree of protection from a disease.

Last Updated: February 26, 2010

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & William Atkinson, MD, MPH - Public Health and Preventive Medicine

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.