Study: Depression, Stress Could Dampen Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines
Decades of research show that depression, stress, loneliness, and poor health behaviours can weaken the body's immune system and lower the effectiveness of certain vaccines. A new report suggests that the same may be true for the new COVID-19 vaccines that are in development and the early stages of global distribution.
The report was published in Perspectives on Psychological Science. 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...