The human immune system is vital in protecting your body against germs, cell changes, and any pathogen that can affect your health. It’s a system that contains several organs, antibodies(proteins), chemicals, and cells like the white blood cells that work together to protect you from the disease-causing micro-organisms.
Natural immunization and vaccines have been proven effective in boosting an individual’s immunity to a certain disease. You may not know the importance of a robust immune system until a pathogen weakens it. An example is when a germ that has never attacked your body, like chicken pox, gets into your system. There’s a high chance you’ll get ill if you encounter it for the first time.
If you’re one of those who want to boost their immune system, you should know the distinctions between immunization vs vaccination to avoid confusion. While both processes are fundamental in helping your body combat different disease-causing micro-organisms, they don’t work in the same way. They have differences, and here are some of them:
1. How They’re Produced
Some antibodies are naturally produced to help identify and combat specific ill-causing organisms in the body. They help a person develop immunity to a particular disease. Besides the ones that your immune system manufactures, there are also monoclonal antibodies. They’re from individuals who’ve healed from a specific illness. For these people, their cells have become immune from the pathogens that caused the sickness. Monoclonal antibodies are then prepared in the laboratory so they can be given to an individual through injection or intravenous infusion.
On the flip side, there’s no type of vaccine that naturally occurs in the body. Vaccines are all artificially made in the laboratory using attenuated bacteria or viruses. They aim to increase the body’s chances of fighting a future pathogen or infection.
2. Their Functions
Antibodies help the body identify viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing micro-organisms and deal with them. When you fall sick, the body naturally releases some of these antibodies, thus, hastening your healing process. It may also help you prevent contracting the same disease again in the future.
The monoclonal antibodies, on the other hand, are administered to a patient to fight an illness. They’re considered passive immunity since the body doesn’t naturally produce them. Examples are some antibodies that have been processed in the laboratory to fight some types of cancers.
On the contrary, vaccines aren’t used to treat a condition but to protect you from the risk of getting a particular disease. Examples of common illnesses that vaccines can help you with include Covid-19, polio, whooping cough, tetanus-diphtheria, and hepatitis.
Vaccines are a type of active immunity. They’re believed to enhance the body’s ability to release relevant antibodies to fight any pathogen. Unlike antibodies, vaccines don’t treat. What they do is teach the body how to deal with a future infection. However, they don’t guarantee complete, long-lasting protection.
3. The Time It Takes To Portray Effectiveness
The effect of immunity caused by natural antibodies is almost immediate after they sense that something foreign has attached to the immune system. It’s also true for monoclonal antibodies.
Vaccines, on the other hand, work differently. Depending on the vaccine type, it may take approximately two weeks before your immune system gets protection from the pathogens of the particular illness you’ve been vaccinated against. Some vaccines even require multiple doses before the protection kicks in.
4. Side Effects
There are different types of vaccines. Some may have serious side effects, while others may only cause mild ones. For instance, some people who got the covid-19 vaccine said they experienced mild side effects. Some symptoms lasted a few hours, while few people reported being affected for days. Some of the common side effects include:
- Mild Fever
- General body tiredness
- Redness, pain, and soreness if the vaccine was administered using an injection
- Joint and muscle aches
When you go through these symptoms after being vaccinated, you shouldn’t worry. In most cases, it shows that the body has started to create protection (build immunity) against the specific illness.
While it’s difficult to get individuals who’ve experienced severe side effects, some of them still exist. Few of approximately a million people who received a vaccine shot may get severely affected. Some of the symptoms that they may encounter include:
- Throat swelling if the vaccine was orally administered
- Breathing difficulties
- Increased heartbeat
- Face swelling
- General body weakness and dizziness
- Rashes throughout the entire body
It’s advisable for patients who get such allergic reactions after receiving a vaccine to visit the nearest health center or hospital immediately. If that’s not possible, they can call an emergency healthcare provider. On the other hand, when a natural antibody is working, chances are extremely low that you’ll be aware that they are. Therefore, rarely will an individual experience any side effects. Monoclonal antibodies work differently, though, because sometimes they may trigger an allergic reaction. The reason is that a protein has just been injected into the body. Some of the side effects that you’re likely to encounter with monoclonal antibodies include:
- General body weakness and tiredness
- Mild fever
- Body rash
- Low blood pressure
5. The Duration Of Their Protection
Naturally occurring antibodies stay in the immune system for as long as you’re alive. On the other hand, a vaccine’s protection only lasts for a few months up to a year. Most of them require additional shots or boosters to sustain their effectiveness.
Both vaccination and natural immunization play a crucial role in helping the immune system fight against pathogens. However, they have some significant differences. They differ in terms of how they’re made, function, and cause side effects, among others.
The common denominator between the two processes is that they help protect the body from infections. It’s important to note, however, that vaccines can’ guarantee complete protection. Each individual responds to different types of vaccines uniquely. Unless you’ve already developed the right antibodies, it still pays to practice the minimum health standards and follow the protocols set by the health authorities.