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Don't get a flu shot if you're in a bad mood

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THE SCIENCE

Being in a good mood the day of your flu shot can increase its effectiveness, according to a new study from the University of Nottingham in the UK.

EXPERT INSIGHT

"We know a variety of factors influence how well vaccines work: mood, sleep, physical activity, and diet. These are still important, but our study found positive mood to be the most important factor,” says study author Kavita Vedhara, Ph.D., professor of health psychology at the University of Nottingham. It probably comes down to the stress hormone, cortisol, which we know can affect how well the immune system works, Vedhara says. She speculates the connection is one of three things: People with a more positive mood produce lower levels of cortisol in the moment; they usually lead healthier lifestyles and therefore have better immune function; or they may be better able, psychologically, to deal with stress, thereby being less susceptible to changes in hormones.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, reschedule your flu shot for the next day. But Vedhara cautions against long delays. "It's always better to get some protection rather than none," she adds. And keep partaking in exercise you enjoy: While Vedhara’s study found that a good mood day-of had the strongest effect, it also helped maximize antibody production prior to getting the vaccine.