Introduction: The innate immune response is the first line of defense and consists of physical, chemical and cellular defenses. The adaptive immune response is the second line of defense and is pathogen-specific. Innate immunity occurs immediately while adaptive immunity develops upon pathogen exposure, and is long-lasting, highly specific, and sustained by memory T cells. Respiratory virus infection typically induces effective immunity but over-exuberant responses are associated with pathophysiology. Cytokines expressed in response to viral infection can enhance biological responses, activate, and trigger signaling pathways leading to adaptive immunity Vaccines induce immunity, specifically B and T cell responses. Vaccination is generally efficacious, but for many viruses, our understanding of vaccination strategies and immunity is incomplete or in its infancy. Studies that examine innate and adaptive immune responses to respiratory virus infection will aid vaccine development and may reduce the burden of respiratory viral disease. Areas covered: A literature search was performed using PubMed. The search covered: innate, adaptive, respiratory virus, vaccine development, B cell, and T cell. Expert opinion: Immunity rests on two pillars, i.e. the innate and adaptive immune system, which function together on different tasks to maintain homeostasis. a better understanding of immunity is necessary for disease prevention and intervention.