Vaccine Immunity IS Natural Immunity

Nurse's Blog, statdate 2021.12.26

In the interest of full disclosure, let me begin by saying that I am not an epidemiologist, immunologist, or a virologist. What I am is a concerned nurse who wants to help make reliable information easier to find and understand. As a nurse, my education has included relevant topics such as disease prevention, pathophysiology, microbiology, and pharmacology. This is a blog. Information found here is generalized and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice; please consult your personal healthcare provider before acting on any information shown here.

All information here is, to the best of my knowledge, current as of the date this page was written (date under the title of this page). This page may be updated as I find new information. A complete list of cited references is included at the end of this page.

Don't Go Chasing Omicron

I have been asked by vaccine-hesitant individuals about my thoughts on intentionally getting infected with the Omicron COVID‑19 variant as a way to gain "natural immunity," rationalizing it by citing early predictions that Omicron infections will have milder symptoms than previous variants. This reminds me of the "pox parties" that went on before chickenpox vaccines were available, and IT IS A BAD IDEA!

First of all, we can't guarantee that Omicron infection will be milder than infection with past variants; the demographics of the South African reports need to be considered, as they have a younger population and many have already developed antibodies to protect themselves - either by infection or vaccination (Lewis, 2021). If you do end up needing treatment, you will have fewer options as the monoclonal antibody cocktails made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly are ineffective against the Omicron variant, and there is a shortage of GSK's sotrovimab (Berthold et al., 2021). And as addressed in my very first post, "Addressing Common COVID‑19 Misconceptions," survival is not the only factor to consider; COVID‑19 infection is known to cause blood clots leading to strokes (even in young people), heart attacks, liver and kidney damage, along with many other serious complications (Mayo Clinic, 2020).

Vaccination is a much safer way to obtain immunity. And there's no need to worry about the mRNA vaccines being "new" or "rushed;" they've been thoroughly studied. Research on mRNA vaccines started in 1990 (Wolff et al., 1990), human trials of mRNA vaccines began in 2008 (Weide et al., 2008), and SARS‑CoV‑related vaccine research has been ongoing since 2003 (Badgujar et al., 2020).

Antigens vs. The Immune Goblins

So it's actually "immunoglobulins," but I like calling them the immune goblins. Anyway, immunity is a careful balance between the bad guys (antigens) and the good guys (immunoglobulins). Immunoglobulins are "Y"‑shaped antibodies that are responsible for sensing foreign substances (bacteria, viruses, fungi, pollens, etc.) and neutralizing them. There are five types of immunoglobulins: Immunoglobulin A (IgA), Immunoglobulin E (IgE), Immunoglobulin M (IgM), Immunoglobulin G (IgG), and Immunoglobulin D (IgD). Here's how I was taught to remember them:

IgA is responsible for seasonal Allergies: IgA is mainly found in the respiratory tract and is the main antibody involved when you experience allergies to things like pollen and mold.

IgE is responsible for Emergencies: When someone has an anaphylactic reaction, there is too much IgE present.

IgM is the Mama bear: IgM is the first antibody on the scene to protect your body from an invader. You may have a blood test for IgM ordered to find out if you've recently been infected by something.

IgG is Grandma: IgG is a wise, old antibody that has previously learned how to fight a specific antigen and is a trusty standby for you when needed. You may have a blood test for IgG ordered to find out if you have lasting immunity to something.

We Don't know much about IgD: IgD is only found in very small quantities in human tissue and its purpose is not well understood.

Natural Immunity vs. Artificial Immunity

Acquiring "natural immunity" is simply the process of allowing your body to develop antibodies in response to the presence of antigens, and is known as active immunity (The College of Physicians of Philadelphia [CPP], 2018). In this process, IgM will respond first, IgA may also show up depending on the location of the antigen, and you will create IgG antibodies for lasting immunity. All active immunity is natural immunity.

In addition to active immunity, there is also passive immunity, which can be "natural" or "artificial." With passive immunity, it is not necessary for an antigen to be present to gain immunity, but the immunity is only temporary (CPP, 2018). The oldest form of natural passive immunity is when a fetus gains antibodies that cross the placenta or a baby gains antibodies that are present in breastmilk. There is also artificial passive immunity, where antibodies are gained through a blood or plasma transfusion, or in the form of antibody treatments such as the infusion of monoclonal antibodies like those made by Regeneron.


In vaccine-acquired immunity, your body creates IgM and IgG antibodies all on its own, naturally, in response to an antigen that has been intentionally introduced to your body. Your body's immune system goes through the same process of developing the important IgG antibodies whether you are being vaccinated or are actually infected. Why would you want the risk and discomfort of infection when you can make those same IgG antibodies with a simple shot?

REMINDER: Information found here is generalized and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice; please consult your personal healthcare provider before acting on any information shown here.


Badgujar, K. C., Badgujar, V. C., & Badgujar, S. B. (2020). Vaccine development against coronavirus (2003 to present): An overview, recent advances, current scenario, opportunities and challenges. Diabetes & metabolic syndrome, 14(5), 1361–1376.

Berthold, J., Marks, R., & Bole, K. (2021, December 22). As omicron surges, UCSF experts answer questions about the COVID‑19 variant. UCSF news.

Lewis, T. (2021, December 23). Omicron's effect won't be as mild as hoped. Scientific American.

Mayo Clinic. (2020, November 17). COVID‑19 (coronavirus): Long-term effects.

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. (2018, January 10). The history of vaccines: Passive immunization.

Weide, B., Carralot, J. P., Reese, A., Scheel, B., Eigentler, T. K., Hoerr, I., Rammensee, H. G., Garbe, C., & Pascolo, S. (2008). Results of the first phase I/II clinical vaccination trial with direct injection of mRNA. Journal of immunotherapy (Hagerstown, Md. : 1997), 31(2), 180–188.

Wolff, J. A., Malone, R. W., Williams, P., Chong, W., Acsadi, G., Jani, A., & Felgner, P. L. (1990). Direct gene transfer into mouse muscle in vivo. Science (New York, N.Y.), 247(4949 Pt 1), 1465–1468.