Mood may affect flu shot protection, evidence suggests

Some research suggests a positive mindset when receiving a flu shot may lead to greater levels of protection.

Research is still limited, but some data suggests there is a correlation between mood and the levels of antibodies produced, The Washington Post reported Dec. 3. The news outlet cited a 2018 study that found people who were in a good mood the day they received their flu shot generated higher levels of antibodies. 

Researchers are still working to determine the mechanisms behind this potential connection, and experts say it's a complex topic, since the immune system's response to vaccines can vary from person to person. Genetics is thought to play a significant role in a person's immune response to vaccines, though research shows a number of other factors including gut health, exercise, and stress levels are controllables that might improve chances of a strong immune response. 

"Sleep is a biggie," Janice Kiecolt-Glasser, PhD, professor emeritus in psychiatry at Ohio State University's College of Medicine, told the Post. "When you're not sleeping, you're [impairing] your immune response." 

A number of studies, for instance, have shown that only getting a few hours of sleep in the days leading up to and after flu shot vaccination may hamper the immune system's response. 

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