5 Ways to Maintain Your Immune System After Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Getting vaccinated can help your immune system fight off a COVID-19 infection. Discover ways to boost your immunity after vaccination in this article.

Woman smiling to the camera showing off her recent vaccination scar, which is covered by a plaster

If you are taking steps to fortify your immune system against a COVID-19 infection, kudos to you! However, with new variants of the virus emerging over time, you and your family members need to take additional precaution measures like getting vaccinated. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 vaccines are our best defence against potential infection. They can enable a broad immune response that offers protection from more severe disease and hospitalisation due to the infection. 

Similarly, a positive flow of qi — energy that sustains all life forms, both internally in the body and externally in a person’s environment — is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system after vaccination.

Here is a breakdown of how the three COVID-19 vaccinations work and some steps you can take to boost your immune system after getting your shot.

Taking a Closer Look at the 3 COVID-19 Vaccination Types

Close-up of a medical professional inserting a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe
The different COVID-19 vaccines work in unique ways to offer your immune system resistance against future infection.

COVID-19 vaccines work in unique ways to help our bodies develop immunity against infection. It is worth noting that your body may experience symptoms like fatigue, fever or joint pain after getting vaccinated. However, these symptoms should not cause concern. They are entirely normal and a sign of your body building immunity against the virus. Though, some people may develop more severe side effects after vaccination. Therefore, identifying the benefits and risks is important for determining if a person is eligible for vaccination or not.

mRNA vaccines

These vaccines contain a modified version of different viruses, but not the COVID-19 virus. However, the shell of these modified viruses also contains genetic material from the COVID-19 virus. 

Known as a “viral vector,” the material will then give your cells instructions on making copies of a protein that is unique to the COVID-19 virus. This action will then prompt your body to produce immune cells to fight off future COVID-19 infections.

Whole virus vaccines

There are two types of whole virus vaccines available — live-attenuated and inactivated vaccines. Live-attenuated vaccines use a weakened form of the COVID-19 virus (no, they will not cause an infection). This will trigger an immune response. 

On the other hand, inactivated vaccines contain viruses with genetic material that chemicals, heat or radiation have destroyed. This means that they will not be able to infect cells or replicate. However, they can still support the production of immune cells.

4 Steps to a Strong Immune System after Vaccination

Smiling woman sleeping in her bed
A consistent sleep pattern is vital for internal qi harmony and a strong immune system.

You need to adhere to healthy lifestyle habits that can bolster the immune system, your body’s first line of defence against foreign pathogens like COVID-19.

1. Get adequate rest daily

Achieving a balance between the hours you spend working and resting is necessary for restoring energy levels and maintaining qi harmony internally. For this reason, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners recommend that you work and sleep according to your meridian clock.

Adjusting your lifestyle to ensure that you go to sleep by 11 PM and wake up by 5 AM can promote the normal functioning of the immune system. Consuming a herbal soup with ingredients such as lotus seeds (lian zi) and poria (fu ling) that you boil for more than 1.5 hours can also promote restful sleep by inducing a calming effect on the mind.

2. Eat healthy, well-balanced foods

Studies have found that consuming foods rich in vitamin C and probiotics can promote the production of immunity-boosting chemicals by the body. This can strengthen the immune system and kill viruses. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include broccoli, kiwi and citrus fruits.  

Yoghurt, meanwhile, is an abundant source of probiotics. It can effectively prevent people with weak immune systems — children and the elderly — from catching a cold. Though, the consumption of sugar-free yoghurt is recommended for preventing an excessive intake of sugar.

Apart from that, consuming foods or health supplements high in vitamin A is beneficial. They can maintain the linings of the mouth and respiratory tract, as well as boost immunity. Carrots, pumpkins, bell peppers and sweet potatoes are healthy sources of vitamin A. Likewise, you can consume Manuka honey, which has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The honey helps maintain your body’s first line of defence against infections by moisturising the lining of the oral cavity.

In the same way, foods like garlic, onions and scallions contain sulphur compounds that promote immunity. Therefore, you may prepare meals with 2-3 garlic heads or half an onion to rid the body of bacteria and prevent infections. You can also consume herbal supplements made with Cordyceps or the cracked spores of Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum). They can help strengthen the bronchus, lungs, and immune system even further.

3. Engage in physical activity

Elderly Asian couple practising tai chi together outdoors
Performing exercises like tai chi can help to promote a healthy flow of qi in the body.

Regular exercise can improve your immunity against potential infections by draining your lymphatic system. Activities like brisk walking, jogging, or rope-skipping can help move fluids through the lymphatic vessels and lymphoid organs. 

Exercise is also crucial for promoting a smooth flow of blood and qi throughout the body. Tai Chi, an ancient form of exercise inspired by martial arts, is believed to help generate, housing, and replenish qi in the body.

4. Do away with stress!

Taking steps to alleviate stress can improve your immune function after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Acupuncture, for instance, is a traditional remedy that uses needles to stimulate the release of endorphins and encourage better qi flow in the body. Consequently, the activation of both processes can help to improve your mood whilst increasing energy levels and providing pain relief. 

You may also choose to consume herbal formulations prepared with lotus seeds, rose buds or dried lily bulbs to induce a calming effect on the body. Taking a daily supplement containing pollen extracted from Lingzhi mushrooms can help regulate your immune system and replenish blood and qi in your body.

5. Nourish your qi

TCM believes that when your qi is at equilibrium, your body has a natural resistance against diseases and the ability to heal. Thus, it’s essential to remove any excess and replenish any deficiencies, to maintain a balance of qiyin, and yang.

Besides a healthy diet and a good night’s sleep, there are different ways to nourish and regulate your qi. Take care of your mental health and ease anxiety through breathing exercises. One method you can practice to balance your qi is abdominal breathing. You take a deep breath through your nose. Expand your belly as the breath enters your stomach, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.

Alternatively, to nourish your qi, you can use herbs that can help tonify your qi to your diet. They include American ginseng, astragalus root (Huang Qi), and codonopsis root (Dangshen). Meanwhile, you can also consume Chinese yam as it’s mild and has neutral properties. 

The COVID-19 vaccines help the immune system fight against the infection and protect you from severe forms of the disease. Be sure to also practice the healthy-living strategies laid out above and existing precaution measures like social distancing, regular hand washing, and wearing a protective mask when outdoors to prevent being infected with the virus.

This is an adaptation of an article, “5 Ways to Power Up Your Immune System”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website. 

References

  1. World Health Organization. 2021. Vaccine efficacy, effectiveness and protection. [Accessed 21 July 2021] 
  2. American Institute of Alternative Medicine. Qi Stagnation. [Accessed 21 July 2021] 
  3. GRADUATE SCHOOL of INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE. What is Liver Qi Stagnation and What Can I do About it? [Accessed 21 July 2021] 
  4. THE NATURAL art of SKINCARE INC. 2020. HOW TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE LOOKS AT THE IMMUNE SYSTEM[Accessed 21 July 2021]  
  5. Medical Acupuncture. 2017. Dysbiosis, Spleen Qi, Phlegm, and Complex Difficulties. [Accessed 21 July 2021] 
  6. Health123.com. Boost the Immune System for Self-defence (提升免疫力,自我防!). [Accessed 21 July 2021] 

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