Planning on getting a flu shot this year? Better put on a happy face.
According to research by a team of health experts from the University of Nottingham in England, being in a positive mood when you get your flu shot can increase its protective effects. The research team set out to determine what psychological and behavioral factors affect vaccinations in the hopes of better understanding what factors had the greatest impact on the vaccine in preventing disease.
The team looked at negative and positive moods, physical activity, diet and sleep three times a week for six weeks in a group of 138 older people due for a flu shot. When the amount of influenza antibodies in the test subjects' blood was measured four weeks and 16 weeks post-vaccination, the researchers found that only positive mood seemed to impact vaccine effectiveness.
The study was published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity and funded by the U.K.'s National Health Service and Medical Research Council.
"We have known for many years that a number of psychological and behavioral factors such as stress, physical activity and diet influence how well the immune system works, and these factors have also been shown to influence how well vaccines protect against disease," professor Kavita Vedhara of the university's primary-care division said in a news release.