COLUMBUS, Ohio - How well a pneumonia vaccination will protect elderly Americans may depend on how stressed they are when they get the shots. A new study is showing that even after six months, the vaccine may have been weakened by a person's stress levels.
The findings are extremely important since bacterial pneumonia and the influenza infection that often precedes it are the fourth leading causes of death in this country for people older than 75.
The study, reported this month in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, is the latest in a long line of investigations into the effect stress has on the human immune system. It is also the first time scientists have been able to show that A bacterial vaccine can be affected by a patient's stress levels. Most earlier work has focused on viral vaccines.
Elderly Americans should remember this when they make plans for getting their annual flu and pneumonia vaccinations, explains lead author of the report, Ron Glaser, professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University. If they're highly stressed at the time they're scheduled to get the shots, maybe they should reschedule.
"The bottom line is that they should probably wait until they feel
less stressed," he says. "If they do, they may stand a better
chance of developing a stronger immune response from the
Contact: Ronald Glaser
Ohio State University