Although there has been a rush for things to return “normal,” the truth is that living with Covid is our new reality. The Root talked to the esteemed Dr. Melissa Clarke about ways we can build immunity as the virus continues to affect vulnerable communities.
Why immunity is important
There is only one way to build immunity and that is by developing antibodies. According to the CDC, antibodies are proteins that your immune system makes to help fight infection and protect you from getting sick in the future. Building immunity means that you are preparing your body to have the tools ready to prevent disease.
However, a healthy lifestyle is necessary in strengthening immunity.
According to Dr. Clarke:
“A lot of people think taking vitamins, exercising, and having a generally healthy lifestyle builds your immunity, but those things do not make antibodies, which are what actually give you immunity.”
Living a healthy lifestyle helps to keep your immune cells healthy after being vaccinated or if you catch Covid. Healthy cells allow your body to maximize antibody production. Therefore, it minimizes the disease’s effect on you as well as those around you.
Developing antibodies is essential.
There are two ways that you can get antibodies. One is by getting vaccinated. The other is by having and recovering from Covid. Antibodies are specific to the disease they’re fighting against, which is why you can only gain antibodies for Covid through the vaccine or by actually catching the disease.
Getting vaccinated is by far the safest and most convenient way to create antibodies. When you receive the vaccine, your body manufactures those antibodies that make it easier to recover if you catch Covid post-vaccination. Having antibodies also helps decrease the spread of Covid since the lesser the virus builds up in your system the less likely it will spread to others. Immunity comes in two forms: active or passive.
What is active immunity?
Active immunity can be gained through natural immunity or vaccine-induced immunity. When you catch a disease and then gain antibodies, that is called natural immunity. When you get vaccinated, it is called vaccine-induced immunity. Active immunity is long-lasting and can last for years.
What is passive immunity?
On the contrary, passive immunity is not long-lasting. A person could be born with immunity to disease if their mother received a vaccine during pregnancy. When somebody needs to be quickly protected from a disease, they can be given blood products that contain antibodies.