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Description: If you have taken an introductory Psychology course that included a section on stress you may be aware that ongoing stress can have a negative impact upon your immune system. Those with sustained moderate to high levels of stress are at increased risk for things ranging from colds to cancer as a result of the stress-linked reductions in the functioning of their immune systems. An obvious Covid related issue is that those who are stressed may be at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus and at risk for a more serious case as well. While it is not like we need anything more to worry about these days think for a moment about the possible relationship between levels of stress and the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine(s) now that the vaccines are slowly rolling out and people are getting their “jabs” (as the British call them). So as not to just be adding to our stress, also take a moment and thinks about what sort of intervention(s) might be mounted in order to try and reduce the negative influence of stress on vaccine efficacy. Once you have your thoughts in order have a read through the article linked below to se what some Psychological researchers looked at and what their results suggest (positively) in this area.

Source: Depression and Stress Could Dampen Efficacy off COVID-19 Vaccines: Interventions and Health Behavior Changes Could Boost Immunity, Association for Psychological Science.

Date: January 13, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, as scary as the possibility that stress reduces vaccine efficacy, or more specifically, reduces the immune response of our immune systems to virus targeted by the vaccine can be it is a great relief to see that simple things like a vigorous work out and a good night’s sleep in the 24 hours before getting the jab can significantly reduce the negative impact of stress on our immune systems reaction to the vaccine. It is a useful reminder that while we tend to think of stress as a subjective or psychological phenomenon we cope with its effects much more successfully when we focus in on the physiological aspects of our stress response and realize the exercise and getting a good night’s sleep can significantly reduce the impact that stress has upon us.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How does stress effect out immune response?
  2. How might stress impact the efficacy of vaccines?
  3. What sorts of interventions reduce the potential negative impacts of tress on our immune system responses to Covid vaccines and how might we set up and implement such interventions at the population (public health) level?

References (Read Further):

Madison, A., Shrout, M. R., Renna, M. E., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. Psychological and Behavioral Predictors of Vaccine Efficacy: Considerations for COVID-19. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Link

Glaser, R., Sheridan, J., Malarkey, W. B., MacCallum, R. C., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2000). Chronic stress modulates the immune response to a pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. Psychosomatic medicine, 62(6), 804-807. Link

Reiche, E. M. V., Nunes, S. O. V., & Morimoto, H. K. (2004). Stress, depression, the immune system, and cancer. The lancet oncology, 5(10), 617-625. Link

Arora, S., & Bhattacharjee, J. (2008). Modulation of immune responses in stress by Yoga. International journal of yoga, 1(2), 45. Link

Antoni, M. H., & Dhabhar, F. S. (2019). The impact of psychosocial stress and stress management on immune responses in patients with cancer. Cancer, 125(9), 1417-1431. Link

Schakel, L., Veldhuijzen, D. S., Crompvoets, P. I., Bosch, J. A., Cohen, S., van Middendorp, H., … & Evers, A. W. (2019). Effectiveness of stress-reducing interventions on the response to challenges to the immune system: a meta-analytic review. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 88(5), 274-286. Link

Morey, J. N., Boggero, I. A., Scott, A. B., & Segerstrom, S. C. (2015). Current directions in stress and human immune function. Current opinion in psychology, 5, 13-17. Link