With a recent increase in new cases of COVID-19 and as vaccination rates stagnate in parts of the country, questions surrounding the level of protection offered by vaccines remain important. A University of New Mexico researcher goes one step further by examining whether the degree of protective immunity people get from mRNA vaccines is related to their level of physical activity or fitness.
Assistant Professor Michael Deyhle works in the College of Education and Humanities in the Department of Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences. By focusing on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the study seeks to answer a main question: if a person is very physically active or in good physical condition, does their body generate better immunity against COVID-19 after the vaccination ?
âI am delighted to be doing this study because as a researcher I am particularly passionate about two areas: exercise physiology and immunology. This study combines the two. ” – Michael Deyhle, UNM Assistant Professor
âVaccination is one of the most effective interventions in modern medicine to save lives, but vaccines are not always perfectly effective,â Deyhle said. âThere are several reasons for the varying effectiveness of a vaccine. Some of these factors are beyond our control, such as age and genetic factors. But some factors that can influence the effectiveness of vaccination are variables that we can choose to modify, such as nutrition and physical activity.
Deyhle said exercise also improved immune function against infections and improved the protective immune response generated by some vaccines (like the flu shot).
âOf course, we don’t yet know if this relationship is valid for the Covid-19 vaccination, so that’s what we want to know,â he said.
Deyhle said they would determine the level of the immune response by measuring the concentration of antibodies generated by the vaccine in the participant’s blood sample. The fitness portion of the study will consist of a quiz and a light fitness test. The researchers say this information will only benefit the community as a whole.
Participants will visit the UNM’s exercise physiology lab, located at the Johnson Center if they are admitted into the study. During the visit, people will complete a physical activity questionnaire, provide a blood sample, perform fitness tests, and take a body fat percentage measurement.
âLearning what we can do in our personal choices and lifestyles to improve the effectiveness of vaccines against life-threatening diseases, such as COVID-19, would be a valuable contribution to the fields of immunology and physiology of exercise. But more than that, this information could also benefit people in their personal lives, âDeyhle said.
Deyhle said the study requires a total of 60 participants, aged 18 to 65, who have been vaccinated in the past six months with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. It will take about an hour for participants to complete the study.
âI am delighted to be doing this study because as a researcher I am particularly passionate about two areas: exercise physiology and immunology. This study combines the two, âDeyhle said.
If anyone is interested in joining the study, contact Deyhle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-321-7388.