Are you planning to get the vaccine shortly ? Are you on a priority list? As Australia moves to the 1B list approximately 6 million Australians will now be offered either the AstraZeneca or the Pfizer vaccine . Both of these will require two shots over a period of up to 12 weeks.
If you are in a position where you can take up the vaccine then it may be useful for you to consider how you can support yourself to ensure that you minimise side effects and that you produce antibodies. To a certain extent these are new vaccines and information is being slowly developed on the optimal way to support clients through the process so this blog is based on the most recent information released.
First up protocols may change slightly between the two different vaccines due to the different composition of the components. The Pfizer vaccine is based on using messenger RNA whereas the AstraZeneca vaccine uses a virus vector based on an adenovirus. Both have clinical trials that show an efficacy rate that is much higher than the annual flu vaccine, Pfizer is estimated to be above 90% and the Astra Zeneca has had a recent trial showing an efficacy rate of 79%, interestingly it appears that a longer gap between doses appears to improve efficacy.
The common ground is the need to support the immune system to have a reasonable but not excessive response, regardless of which vaccine is given. It is recommended is that you ensure that Vitamin D levels are adequate and that you take both prebiotics and probiotics to support immunity for up to two weeks before and two weeks after each round of vaccination.
What sort of dosing is appropriate? Generally around 1-2000 IU of Vitamin D3 as well as a reasonable dose of prebiotics and at least one capsule a day of a reasonable quality probiotic, with a good variety of strains.
Vitamin D levels will be lower for you if yo are just coming out of Winter and a higher daily dose like 2000IU would be helpful.
First up what are prebiotics and how much should you be taking? Prebiotics are fibres which assist in the proliferation of beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics are available in supplement form , such as partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG) and larch. Prebiotics contain insoluble fibres which feed bacteria in the colon. Prebiotics are also sourced from fruit and vegetables, so a useful way to increase prebiotics in the diet is to make sure you are having three cups of vegetables a day from a variety of sources. Ideally have one cup each of brightly coloured vegetables, one cup of brassica and one cup of leafy greens. More information is in this blog about What are the best vegetables to feed your gut bacteria .
Adding probiotics which support the immune system can also be really useful and ideally you need to select strains which will compensate for any underlying gut dysbiosis. In a relatively healthy individual a broad strain probiotic with at least 5-10 billion colony forming units (CFU’s) for two weeks pre and post vaccine should provide good support. Strains which can be helpful include Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and Lactobacillus Paracasei as these can modulate the immune response to an appropriate level.
Fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut and pickles also contain useful probiotics however it can take a long time to build up levels so it is probably preferable to add a suitable probiotic in at this point.
It may also be helpful to just ensure that you are in the best condition possible before you are vaccinated. Ideally make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of good quality sleep, exercising regularly and eating an anti-inflammatory diet. If you are taking a number of medications, particularly those that affect your digestion, it might be a good idea to see a practitioner and work on your overall health before you vaccinate to assist in an appropriate immune response.
A reasonable percentage of people will experience some side effects as a result of the vaccinations. These could just be soreness at the vaccine site, which is fairly common or 24 -48 hours of flu like symptoms. At the moment based on the few vaccinations I have been able to support I have found the homeopathic Gelsemium in a 30c or 200C potency given every two hours for three doses and then as needed to be helpful in managing side effects. The advantage of using homeopathics in this instance is that it will not interfere with the vaccine process.
Christine Pope is an experienced Naturopath and Nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives. She is available for appointments on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and can be contacted on (02) 8084 0081.