Can being in a good mood for your flu shot boost its effectiveness?
With flu season now in full swing, both the sickness and corresponding vaccination are rightfully hot topics.
Vaccines introduce non-harmful amounts or inert samples of diseases into the body, causing the development of antibodies to protect against future infections. The flu vaccination must be created well before the flu season actually starts to ensure there is enough for people across the world, so frequently it is only a prediction of the most prevalent strains in the coming year.
Health researchers at the University of Nottingham attempted to examine some potential psychological and behavioral factors that have played a role in the vaccine’s effectiveness over the years.
The team measured negative mood, positive mood, physical activity, diet and sleep three times a week over a six week period in a group of 138 older people due to have their flu shot. Only one group – those who were consistently in a good mood – had statistically higher levels of antibodies after receiving the shot.
So, is a sunny disposition during a sometimes cloudy season the secret to a healthier flu season?
Maybe yes, maybe no, says Erik LaChance, an infectious disease pharmacist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, Ill.
Those who have positive moods may simply have already been generally healthier and have a better immune system.
“I think having a positive mindset is great for mental health, but wouldn’t go as far to say it increases the effectiveness of a vaccination,” he says.
One of the best ways to protect yourself – alongside proper nutrition, sleep and exercise – is still to make sure you and those around you get flu shots each year.
“There is a high reliance on the concept of herd immunity,” LaChance says. “Most of the people who receive the flu vaccine are generally healthy enough to have their immune system fight it off. However, patients who have a compromised immune system due to illness, chemotherapy or age cannot receive the vaccine, and if they become infected the outcome is likely much worse.”
To schedule your flu shot, call your primary care physician, or find one near you.
About the Author
Nathan Lurz, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. He has nearly a decade of professional news experience as a reporter and editor, and a lifetime of experience as an enthusiastic learner. On the side, he enjoys writing even more, tabletop games, reading, running and explaining that his dog is actually the cutest dog, not yours, sorry.