Association for Psychological Science

Depression and Stress Could Dampen Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines

Interventions and Health Behavior Changes Could Boost Immunity

Newswise — Decades of research show that depression, stress, loneliness, and poor health behaviors can weaken the body’s immune system and lower the effectiveness of certain vaccines. A new report accepted for publication in Perspectives on Psychological Science suggests that the same may be true for the new COVID-19 vaccines that are in development and the early stages of global distribution. Fortunately, it may be possible to reduce these negative effects with simple steps like exercise and sleep.

Vaccines are among the safest and most effective advances in medical history, protecting society from a wide range of otherwise devastating diseases, including smallpox and polio. The key to their success, however, is ensuring that a critical percentage of the population is effectively vaccinated to achieve so-called herd immunity.

Even though rigorous testing has shown that the COVID-19 vaccines approved for distribution in the United States are highly effective at producing a robust immune response, not everyone will immediately gain their full benefit. Environmental factors, as well as an individual’s genetics and physical and mental health, can weaken the body’s immune system, slowing the response to a vaccine.

This is particularly troubling as the novel coronavirus continues to rage across the world, trigging a concurrent mental health crisis as people deal with isolation, economic stressors, and uncertainty about the future. These challenges are the same factors that have been previously shown to weaken vaccine efficacy, particularly among the elderly.

“In addition to the physical toll of COVID-19, the pandemic has an equally troubling mental health component, causing anxiety and depression, among many other related problems. Emotional stressors like these can affect a person’s immune system, impairing their ability to ward off infections,” said Annelise Madison, a researcher at The Ohio State University and lead author on the paper. “Our new study sheds light on vaccine efficacy and how health behaviors and emotional stressors can alter the body’s ability to develop an immune response. The trouble is that the pandemic in and of itself could be amplifying these risk factors.”

Vaccines work by challenging the immune system. Within hours of a vaccination, there is an innate, general immune response on the cellular level as the body begins to recognize a potential biological threat. This frontline response by the immune system is eventually aided by the production of antibodies, which target specific pathogens. It is the continued production of antibodies that helps to determine how effective a vaccine is at conferring long-term protection.

“In our research, we focus most heavily on the antibody response, though it is just one facet of the adaptive immune system’s response,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University and senior author on the paper.

The good news, according to the researchers, is that the COVID-19 vaccines already in circulation are approximately 95% effective. Even so, these psychological and behavioral factors can lengthen the amount of time it takes to develop immunity and can shorten the duration of immunity.

“The thing that excites me is that some of these factors are modifiable,” said Kiecolt-Glaser. “It’s possible to do some simple things to maximize the vaccine’s initial effectiveness.”

Based on prior research, one strategy the researchers suggest is to engage in vigorous exercise and get a good night’s sleep in the 24 hours before vaccination so that your immune system is operating at peak performance. This may help ensure that the best and strongest immune response happens as quickly as possible.

“Prior research suggests that psychological and behavioral interventions can improve vaccine responsiveness. Even shorter-term interventions can be effective,” said Madison. “Therefore, now is the time to identify those at risk for a poor immune response and intervene on these risk factors.”

SEE ORIGINAL STUDY



Filters close

Showing results

110 of 6101
Released: 30-Jul-2021 2:05 PM EDT
Thinking Impaired in 60% of COVID-19 Survivors, Study Finds
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

In a sample of over 400 older adults in Argentina who had recovered from COVID-19, more than 60% displayed some degree of cognitive impairment, a researcher from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio reported July 29 at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Released: 30-Jul-2021 11:50 AM EDT
Support for Government Mandates High and Increasing Over Time, Survey Finds
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

As the coronavirus Delta variant surges throughout the country and mask and vaccine mandates are being considered, a new national survey finds that almost 20 percent of Americans say it is unlikely that they will get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Newswise: How to Play with Your Children in Age-appropriate and Creative Ways When Schools Are Still Closed and Everyone Is Still Stuck at Home
Released: 30-Jul-2021 8:55 AM EDT
How to Play with Your Children in Age-appropriate and Creative Ways When Schools Are Still Closed and Everyone Is Still Stuck at Home
Chulalongkorn University

The COVID-19 situation may have restricted people’s space, but not their imagination. A Chula lecturer has given recommendations to parents who need to spend more time at home on select social activities to enhance children’s development in a safe and age-appropriate way.

Released: 30-Jul-2021 8:30 AM EDT
American Society of Anesthesiologists Strongly Encourages all Health Care Personnel to Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19
American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)

Amid the new surge of COVID-19 cases across the U.S., the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), and eight professional societies associated with the specialty, are strongly encouraging the nation’s health care workers and all eligible Americans to get fully vaccinated with one of the COVID-19 vaccines. ASA and the associated societies remind the public that widespread vaccination is the most effective way to reduce illness and death.

Released: 29-Jul-2021 4:45 PM EDT
Which Voices Led Medical Misinformation in the Early Stages of COVID?
University of Cincinnati

In the early and thus far most devastating stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists were at a near loss on how to treat the deadly disease.

Released: 29-Jul-2021 4:40 PM EDT
Half of U.S. Parents May Not Vaccinate Their Youngest Child Against COVID-19
CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy

Even as the delta variant of Covid-19 sweeps the globe, leaving those who remain unvaccinated vulnerable, vaccination among adults and teenagers in the United States is stalling, giving rise to concerns over whether parents will vaccinate their young children once vaccines are approved for those under 12 years of age.

Newswise: COVID-19 update: coping with increased cases, breakthrough infections, national masking mandates and vaccine requirements
Released: 29-Jul-2021 4:05 PM EDT
COVID-19 update: coping with increased cases, breakthrough infections, national masking mandates and vaccine requirements
Keck Medicine of USC

Keck Medicine of USC experts speak out on the continued physical and emotional consequences of COVID-19

Released: 29-Jul-2021 3:45 PM EDT
FSMB: Spreading COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation May Put Medical License at Risk
Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB)

The Federation of State Medical Boards’ Board of Directors released statement in response to a dramatic increase in the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and disinformation by physicians and other health care professionals on social media platforms, online and in the media.

Newswise: Argonne’s Macal named Fellow of the Society for Computer Simulation International
Released: 29-Jul-2021 2:05 PM EDT
Argonne’s Macal named Fellow of the Society for Computer Simulation International
Argonne National Laboratory

Charles M. “Chick” Macal, a modeling and simulation expert at Argonne, garnered the distinguished title of Fellow of the Society for Computer Simulation International for his 20 years in the field and his recent studies on COVID-19 spread.


Showing results

110 of 6101

close
1.09039