The Grown-Up's Guide to Vaccinations

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Boost Your Shots

You can bump up the protection you get from an immunization, making it even more effective, according to new research. Try these simple steps before rolling up your sleeve.

Lift Some Weight
Doing 25 minutes of biceps curls and lateral raises using dumbbells right before getting a flu shot doubles the protective antibodies you develop, according to a study at the University of Birmingham, England. The upper-body workout may increase drainage of the lymph nodes under your arms, helping to flush vaccine-carrying cells throughout your body, say researchers.

Rest Up
Regularly getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night makes it 11 times more likely you won't get much or any protection from a vaccine, according to new research at the University of California, San Francisco. Poor sleep interferes with your body's immune response.

Break a Sweat
Doing 45 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise before a flu vaccine boosts antibody levels for 20 weeks afterward. Why? Probably because the increased blood flow makes for better absorption of the vaccine in cells, according to an English study.

Need Another Shot?

These three vaccines are not for everyone, but you may want to know about them.

MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
With recent resurgences of highly contagious measles and mumps in the United States and other countries, you could be at risk. Any adult born after 1956 should get at least one dose, unless you've had all three diseases. Pregnant women should not get this vaccine.

Meningococcal Disease
College students in dorms are most at risk for this bacterial infection of the covering of the brain and the spinal cord, which can be life-threatening. But adults traveling to some parts of the world or who have an immune disorder should get the shot.

Hepatitis A
This serious, contagious liver disease can be spread by drinking water or eating food that's been contaminated with the virus. If you're traveling to certain countries or have other risk factors, you may need the vaccine.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, February 2013.


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