UPDATE: There are cases of mild heart inflammation in teenage and young male adults. Do take care after taking your vaccine and stop alcohol consumption for 48hours and no/limited exercise for the next 7-14 days.
The COVID-19 vaccination roll-out is here, studies have demonstrated its efficacy in the original and Kent variant, but exposes only 33% effectiveness in the ‘B.1.617.2’ variant from India (Iacobucci, 2021). Does this mean that the vaccine is pointless to take or nothing could be done?
First, let’s see what the vaccine does to our body. Upon injection, mock COVID structures or spike proteins in the vaccine swim freely in the bloodstream where they will be decoded by ribosomes, AKA the cell factory in your body. After producing the coded RNA, T-bodies and other antibodies serve as literal bodyguards and try to destroy the COVID-looking molecules that form from the vaccine as they perceive it as a foreign object and a threat.
This allows your immunity to get stronger as now, 1) your body recognises what COVID strains to look like, 2) has increased production of bodyguards to faster fight off and call for reinforcements against such infections in the event of a real attack. The vaccine does not contain the virus itself nor does it stay within the body for long.
The RNA messengers and ingredients of the vaccine itself will be metabolised and disposed of by your body within days or weeks at most. For more information on efficacies and how other brands work here.
RNA: Active ingredient safer than traditional vaccine ingredients.
Salt: Balance pH and preserve lifespan.
Sugar: Stabilise mixture.
Lipids: Stabilise mixture and prevent clumping.
Most of the ingredients are in everyday foods we consume, are harmless and certainly do not contain any microchips. They are very fragile and would deteriorate within minutes of thawing.
This is evident in the fact that the unfrozen vaccine is hyper-sensitive and only has a lifespan of 5 days with temperatures ranging from 2 to 8 degrees minimally (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, 2021). They are flushed out of your system within days but provoke an immune response that can last for months (Doria-Rose et al., 2021).
This is also why you would ideally obtain a second dose four weeks after your first, to prolong and gain more immunity. The side effects that come from the immune response are common, but clear guidelines have been printed for those that serve as contraindications or precautions to vaccination which are those severely allergic to the vaccine (WHO, 2021). Usual side effects as noted by the CDC (2021) are:
● Muscle pain
Scary right? But wait! Here’s another list of effects, from the virus itself (Staff, 2020):
● High temperature
● Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
● Joint pain
● Chest pain
● Memory, concentration or sleep problems
● Muscle pain or headache
● Fast or pounding heartbeat
● Loss of smell or taste
● Depression or anxiety
● Dizziness when you stand
● Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities
● HEART damage
● BRAIN damage
● LUNG damage
● ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
● MOOD disorders
● And many many more unknowns!
Still not convinced that the vaccine is the less scary of the two? Not only are the effects of COVID irreversible, but the long-term effects are still very much unknown! Additionally, the risk of side effects are at best, minute, as its pros heavily outweigh the cons:
‘But if it’s only 33% effective why would I take it then’…
Firstly, this is a commonly misunderstood statistic. The 33% figure only comes from the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine 3 weeks after the first dose, whereas the Pfizer vaccine is found to be 88% effective against this new strain two weeks after taking the second dose (Iacobucci, 2021). To understand how to optimise this number further, read on!
Now that we know what vaccines are capable of in our bodies, we should also acknowledge what our bodies could do with vaccines. A meta-analysis by Chastin et al. (2021) found that vaccine efficacy rate was multiplied higher in physically active individuals, besides improving first-line immunity and lowering infectious disease mortality.
More physical activity increases antibody production (IgA) which coats around the mucous membranes of the body. Just staying fit reduces the risks of catching or falling ill from diseases by one-third! Even better news for athletes, antibodies and immune cells were found to be higher a week after taking flu shots as opposed to normal and healthy young adults (Ledo et al., 2020).
In studying the effects of vaccination immediately before strenuous training to measure immune response, scientists found no differences between groups that had taken the vaccine two hours after a workout and those that had worked out a day before the jab. This would mean training intensity before vaccination would not blunt any benefits (Stenger et al.,2020). Do note that these tests were performed in elite athletes and thus may not be representative of the general population.
Based on the expert consensus of the researchers involved in the aforementioned studies, they generally believe that the fitter you are, the better your response. As long as post-vaccination workouts are concerned, doctors of sports medicine recommend continuing with them as per normal as long as you do not feel unwell or queasy from them.
There is no evidence showing that exercising too soon before/after a vaccination impacts their efficacy at all (Galloway and Shahtaji, 2021). Having taken both shots and exercising intensely immediately afterwards, no side effects or disruptions were noticed from yours truly.
Given the recent lockdown of gyms and the lowering of physical activity seen throughout the pandemic, such a decrease could not come at the worst time. Furthermore, the devastating effects of social isolation and reduction in physical activity would only propel rates of anxiety and depression which could also impact future exercise and activity levels (Puccinelli et al., 2021).
Such a disease can directly affect healthcare costs, but without thorough measures and active participation both national and personal, a country could be burdened both socially and economically in the long term.
This is why vaccination and exercising help not only yourself but the country, and a definite pre-requisite in those considering themselves to be community-minded. Get jabbed and continue moving often, from one vaccinated gymrat to another.
- CDC (2021). Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html.
- Iacobucci, G. (2021). Covid-19: Single vaccine dose is 33% effective against variant from India, data show. BMJ, [online] 373, p.n1346. Available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n1346 [Accessed 28 May 2021].
- Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (2021). Summary of the Public Assessment Report for Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-for-covid-19/summary-public-assessment-report-for-pfizerbiontech-covid-19-vaccine#summary-of-the-public-assessment-report [Accessed 28 May 2021].
- Staff, M.C. (2020). COVID-19 (coronavirus): Long-term effects. [online] Mayo Clinic. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-long-term-effects/art-20490351.
- WHO (2021). Who can take the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine? [online] www.who.int. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/who-can-take-the-pfizer-biontech-covid-19–vaccine [Accessed 14 Jan. 2021].
- Franco‐Moreno, A., Herrera‐Morueco, M., Mestre‐Gómez, B., Muñoz‐Rivas, N., Abad‐Motos, A., Salazar‐Chiriboga, D., Duffort‐Falcó, M., Medrano‐Izquierdo, P., Bustamante‐Fermosel, A., Pardo‐Guimera, V., Ulla‐Anés, M. and Torres‐Macho, J. (2020). Incidence of Deep Venous Thrombosis in Patients With COVID ‐19 and Pulmonary Embolism. Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine.
- Chastin, S.F.M., Abaraogu, U., Bourgois, J.G., Dall, P.M., Darnborough, J., Duncan, E., Dumortier, J., Pavón, D.J., McParland, J., Roberts, N.J. and Hamer, M. (2021). Effects of Regular Physical Activity on the Immune System, Vaccination and Risk of Community-Acquired Infectious Disease in the General Population: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine.
- Wedig, I.J., Duelge, T.A. and Elmer, S.J. (2020). Infographic. Stay physically active during COVID-19 with exercise as medicine. British Journal of Sports Medicine, p.bjsports-2020-103282.
- Puccinelli, P.J., da Costa, T.S., Seffrin, A., de Lira, C.A.B., Vancini, R.L., Nikolaidis, P.T., Knechtle, B., Rosemann, T., Hill, L. and Andrade, M.S. (2021). Reduced level of physical activity during COVID-19 pandemic is associated with depression and anxiety levels: an internet-based survey. BMC Public Health, 21(1).
- Ledo, A., Schub, D., Ziller, C., Enders, M., Stenger, T., Gärtner, B. C., Schmidt, T., Meyer, T., & Sester, M. (2020). Elite athletes on regular training show more pronounced induction of vaccine-specific T-cells and antibodies after tetravalent influenza vaccination than controls. Brain, behaviour, and immunity, 83, 135–145. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2019.09.024
- Stenger, T., Ledo, A., Ziller, C., Schub, D., Schmidt, T., Enders, M., GÄrtner, B. C., Sester, M., & Meyer, T. (2020). Timing of Vaccination after Training: Immune Response and Side Effects in Athletes. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 52(7), 1603–1609. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000002278
- practio.co.uk. (n.d.). COVID-19 vaccine ingredients explained. [online] Available at: https://practio.co.uk/coronavirus/articles/coronavirus-vaccine-ingredients.
- Doria-Rose, N., Suthar, M.S., Makowski, M., O’Connell, S., McDermott, A.B., Flach, B., Ledgerwood, J.E., Mascola, J.R., Graham, B.S., Lin, B.C., O’Dell, S., Schmidt, S.D., Widge, A.T., Edara, V.-V., Anderson, E.J., Lai, L., Floyd, K., Rouphael, N.G., Zarnitsyna, V. and Roberts, P.C. (2021). Antibody Persistence through 6 Months after the Second Dose of mRNA-1273 Vaccine for Covid-19. New England Journal of Medicine.
- Galloway, S. and Shahtaji, A. (2021). Exercise and COVID-19 Vaccination: What You Should Know. [online] www.newswise.com. Available at: https://www.newswise.com/coronavirus/exercise-and-covid-19-vaccination-what-you-should-know [Accessed 7 Jun. 2021].
Certified ACE personal trainer (2016), HFE Pilates teacher (2020), SWF Olympic weightlifting coach level 1. Current student physiotherapist. Once over 40% bodyfat and now a far cry from it. Looking to help others do the same.