Anxiety, Depression & Emotional Health Impact Vaccine Effectiveness
Many of our patients will be faced with the decision of whether or not to get the COVID vaccine.
How can we help our patients make the best choice and then provide support to minimize risks?
There are risks with both choices.
For those who choose to get the vaccine, we want to make sure the patient is psychologically and physically prepared to get the best response while minimizing negative effects.
A large body of research shows that it's not just about the vaccine but the state of the body while the person is getting the vaccine that impacts vaccine effectiveness.
It sounds like TCM germ theory, right? And, here's where it gets fascinating...
Many psychological factors impact immune system response to the vaccine.
These factors include stress, depression, loneliness, and poor health -- all of which can actually impair the immune system's response to the vaccine, making it less effective.
This is especially true in vulnerable groups like the elderly.
According to a Summary by Association for Psychological Science, "Health behaviors and emotional stressors can alter the body’s ability to develop an immune response to vaccines, including—potentially—the new COVID-19 vaccines. Simple interventions, including exercising and getting a good night’s sleep in the 24 hours before vaccination, may maximize the vaccine’s initial effectiveness."
Psychological Factors in Parents & Children Influence Vaccine Effectiveness
Many of the parents we work with struggle with decisions about whether or not to vaccinate and have increased anxiety at the time of their child's vaccination.
This is coupled with the fact that stress and anxiety rates have been extremely high since the onset of the pandemic for all age groups. Older children may feel apprehension, anxiety, and fear about getting a shot on top of a sense of hopelessness about the future.
The burden on parents who have children with developmental disabilities is even greater.
According to the journal article, Psychological and Behavioral Predictors of Vaccine Efficacy: Considerations for COVID-19:
"Parental caregivers of children with developmental disabilities had lower antibody responses to the influenza virus vaccine, adjusting for baseline antibody levels, (Gallagher et al., 2009a) and pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine (Gallagher et al., 2009b), which evokes a primary immune response, compared with parents of typically developing children. These findings indicate that intensive caregiving—even among young people—can increase susceptibility to both bacterial infections (Gallagher et al., 2009b; Glaser et al., 2000) and viral infections (Gallagher et al., 2009a; Glaser et al., 1998; Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 1996)."
While this is not definitive for the COVID vaccine, it should still be a huge consideration when treating our patients since stress and anxiety are psychological risk factors that could contribute to poor vaccine response.
Acupuncture and non-needle techniques can reduce the body's stress response, regulate the nervous system, and help the body return to homeostasis, potentially boosting vaccine effectiveness and reducing negative effects.
Acupuncture points to help include:
- Pericardium 6
- Heart 7
- Si Shen Cong
- Yin Tang
- Triple Burner 17
- Gall Bladder 12
- Stomach 36
- Large Intestine 4
- Liver 3
Auricular Acupressure Using Ear Seeds:
Apply ear seeds prior to vaccination and they can work in the background causing Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS), which helps to turn off the body's stress response. See our article on VNS for more information.
- Shen Men
- Point Zero
In addition, for patients experiencing moderate to severe anxiety we recommend homecare tools between visits and before vaccination. You can start reading about anxiety homecare tools here in our 3 part series.
We can also guide our patients on how to prepare the body to have the best response to the vaccine and give them advice for helping the body detoxify from toxic additives and preservatives that are injected directly into the bloodstream.
In my next post, I will cover instructions you can provide your patients before and after vaccines to support the best possible outcome.