8 Factors that Influence Immunity Response to Vaccines (and what you can do about them!)
The global benefits of vaccines have been transformative and undeniable. For the vast majority of people, flu shots and other vaccinations are important recurring events. Yet, most people don't know that vaccine effectiveness can vary by individual and that immunity response is influenced by many factors. So, how can we prepare for vaccinations to influence our immunity response?
The CDC reports publishes annual statistics on Vaccine Effectiveness (VE). On average vaccine effectiveness for the flu vaccine ranges between 40-60% among overall populations but can be as high as 70% to as low as 19% across certain age groups. The same is true for many other vaccines. Younger, healthier people generally have better results, whereas older people with weaker immune systems tend to experience lower rates Vaccine Effectiveness.(1) The age-related decline in immune responses is called immunosenescence, and it is well researched and unfortunate reality. Immunosenescence caused by aging limits the protective effects of vaccination in older adults.(2)
The CDC cites two main reasons for Vaccine Effectiveness ranges: characteristics of the person being vaccinated such as age and health, and similarity or “match” between the flu viruses the flu vaccine.(1) However, there are many other factors that also play into Immunity Response. According to a review published in 2019 by the American Society of Microbiology Journal by infectious disease researchers Petra Zimmerman and Nigel Curtis, there are 8 groups of factors that influence immunity response to vaccines. In my opinion, most of these factors are generally outside our control in adulthood, while others like nutrition are completely manageable.
Factors outside of our control
1. Intrinsic host factors like age, sex, genetics and comorbidities. You are who you are and unfortunately we can't turn back the hands of time. We can make our best effort to stay healthy and avoid disease that could diminish immunity response.
2. Perinatal host factors like birthweight, breastfeeding, maternal antibodies and infections during pregnancy. As an adult, we're long past being able to influence these factors for ourselves, though they are important considerations if you're pregnant.
3. Environmental factors like geographic location, season, family size and exposure to toxins, which are not in our immediate control.
4. Vaccine factors like type, strain, adjuvants and dose are critically important to the anticipated outcome, however as consumers we have no meaningful input on them. These factors are driven purely by science.
5. Administration factors like vaccination schedule, route, site, needle size, time of day and co-administered vaccines and drugs. While we'd love to ask for a smaller needle, that's unfortunately not up to us. Again, these are all factors decided for us by experts, science and the FDA.
Factors within our control
6. Extrinsic factors like infections, parasites, antibiotics, probiotics and prebiotics, microbiota and preexisting immunity. Your lifestyle and diet play an important role. Maintaining a healthy gut is important and the consumption of good live bacteria has been proven to help. Separate reviews by Zimmerman (2) and Lei (3) have shown meaningful benefits to increased immunogenicity and seroprotection rates in those who took probiotics.
7. Behavioral factors like smoking, alcohol consumptions, exercise, stress and sleep all have a meaningful impact on immunity response. Sometimes, the things we do are as important as the things we avoid.
8. Nutritional factors like body mass index, nutritional status, micronutrients and enteropathy (gut illness). This is perhaps the most controllable factor among those listed. We can supplement our nutritional status and avoid micronutrient deficiencies by targeting the key vitamins, minerals, amino acids, flavonoids and probiotics necessary for adequate vaccine preparedness. VACCI PREP is formulated specifically for that purpose.
"Supporting your immune system before vaccinating is like caring for the quality of the soil when planting a seed."
Vaccine Preparedness (VACCI PREP) is about maximizing factors within our control to help support a better immune response when vaccinating.
You got this!
Lindsey Ryan- Certified Nutritionist
Disclaimer: The information has not been reviewed or approved by the FDA and was provided as an educational resource, not medical advice. Please consult your medical care practitioner with any questions. VACCI PREP is not a replacement for vaccines nor intended to treat their side effects.
Petra Zimmermann, Nigel Curtis Factors That Influence the Immune Response to Vaccination. Clinical Microbiology Reviews Mar 2019, 32 (2) e00084-18
Lei WT, Shih PC, Liu SJ, et al. Effect of probiotics and prebiotics on immune response to influenza vaccination in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrients. 2017;9(11).