Exercise may improve vaccine effectiveness

Exercising at or around the time of having your influenza vaccination may increase the success of that vaccination, according to a new study[1] published by a team from the University of Sydney. The effectiveness of the seasonal influenza vaccine to prevent influenza-associated, medically attended acute respiratory infection (ARI) is known to vary. According to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC)[2], the estimated vaccine effectiveness (VE) of the 2012-13 season was about 50 to 60% (in February). VE was estimated as 47% against influenza A (H3N2) virus infections and 67% against B virus infections. The VE against Influenza A appeared to be lower in adults older than 65 years.

These days the supposed ‘ineffectiveness’ of the vaccination is one of the reasons why people refuse to take one but they forget that, even if the vaccination isn’t as successful as it should be, the eventual illness will not be as severe as without that vaccination.
Being physically active has been found to improve immunity in general, but specifically doing some exercise around the time of a vaccination - immediately before or after - can boost the vaccine response in particular, said Dr Kate Edwards from the Faculty of Health Science's Exercise and Sport Science unit. She advised that a bout of exercise can bring about profound changes in the immune system, such as increasing circulating cell numbers, with specific increases in certain subsets, and the release of immune messenger proteins by working muscle cells themselves.

This boost of effectiveness is certainly not an unknown feature because users/abusers of drugs like heroin also have the tendency to go on a brisk walk just after taking their shot. They ‘know’ that the desired effects of the drug arrive quicker and last longer if they exercise. Not all researchers know their subject well enough and think 'that members of this population derive great pleasure from all manner of physical pastimes'[3].

[1] Edwards et al: Effects of exercise on vaccine-induced immune responses in Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics - 2013
[2] CDC: Early Estimates of Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness — United States, February 2013
[3] Neale et al: Heroin users' views and experiences of physical activity, sport and exercise in The International Journal on Drug Policy - 2012

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