Preparing to Receive the Covid-19 Vaccine
Progress continues to be made in vaccinating more and more Canadians for Covid-19 infection. As people wait for their turn to be eligible for the vaccine, we are reminded to follow the fundamentals to keep us safe from infection.
- Keep your physical distance from others.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Wear a mask in indoor public places.
- Stay home if you are feeling sick.
- Follow public health orders regarding travel.
These actions will help protect not only yourself, but your community, from spreading the Covid-19 virus. Many people will want to go a step further, and make additional changes to improve their general immune system function. A healthy immune system will work to protect your body from infections, and will also help to ensure that you are able to make antibodies and T-cell protection against Covid-19 once you receive the vaccine.
So what actions can be taken to ensure that you are fit as a fiddle when your turn to receive the vaccine comes? The following list provides areas where you might be able to improve the health of your immune system.
Quit Smoking – If you needed another reason to quit smoking, here is one. Nicotine suppresses the immune system. The beneficial effects of quitting on your lungs can be enormous on their own, but if that isn’t enough of an incentive, consider that you may be more likely to benefit from the Covid-19 vaccine if you can kick the cigarette habit. Your pharmacist is a great resource for help with smoking cessation.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption – There has reportedly been a spike in alcohol comsumption during the pandemic, as people are increasingly using alcohol to cope with boredom and isolation. This is a worrying trend, because alcohol has detrimental effects on the immune system. Alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of antibodies and natural killer cells which are responsible for antiviral immunity, as well as causing damage to the protective lining of the gut. If you are serious about keeping your immune system in top working condition, you’ll do well to switch the red wine for an herbal tea.
Get Enough Sleep – When you don’t get enough sleep (which is 7-8 hours per night for most adults), your body isn’t able to produce the cells and antibodies that fight off infections like it should. Over time, this lack of sleep will be detrimental to your immune system. If you can make changes to improve your sleep, especially in the period of time before receiving a vaccine, your immune system will be better prepared to make the infection-fighting cells that will give you immunity.
Get Exercise – This has been a tough task for people during a cold snap in a pandemic. With gyms closed and the outdoors unappealing, seniors especially have had difficulty finding ways to keep their bodies in motion. The good news is that there are plenty of instructional videos to be found on YouTube for indoor exercises for seniors. With older adults relying more on technology to keep them connected to family and friends, there is an opportunity to use this newfound tech friendliness to help keep older adults moving. Do you know an older adult who struggles getting enough exercise? Find an instructional exercise video online and share it with them. You’ll be helping to boost their immune system with exercise and with a social connection!
Social Connection – With lots of people using the term social distancing, it is important to remember that it is physical distancing which inhibits the spread of the virus. Social connections with others actually have a large positive impact on overall health, including specifically with the immune system. According to the American Psychological Association, people who feel lonely have more inflammation and less immunity than others. When you reach out to someone who is vulnerable you are helping boost two immune systems.
Control Medical Conditions – This tip is especially important for those who suffer from autoimmune disorders, or any medical condition which causes inflammation in the body. Gaining control of your condition may mean ensuring that your medications are being used optimally, or that you are avoiding any triggers for “flare ups” of your condition. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you need help with ensuring that your medical condition is well-controlled.
Eat Nutritious Food – While everyone looks to supplement with immune boosting supplements like Vitamin D and Zinc, the best strategy for getting the nutrients that your body requires is to eat as healthy as you can. Especially important is including fresh vegetables wherever possible, and reducing inflammation-producing processed foods. Where this is not possible, speak to your pharmacist about the role that vitamin and herbal supplements can play in maintaining your immune health.
Taking steps to improve the health of your immune system will not only help your body react positively to the Covid-19 vaccine, but will help you maintain your good health long into the future.
Your local Super Thrifty pharmacist can notify you to book an appointment when you become eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Click to add your name to our waiting list.
Mark Mercure is certified by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties in Geriatric Pharmacy and is the owner/manager of Home Health Care Pharmacy. He specializes in providing comprehensive medication reviews which help patients optimize medication use and avoid drug-related issues.