Managing COVID-19 immunization side effects

Immunization is the process of stimulating the immune system towards pathogens such as viruses by means of introducing the body to weakened viruses or unharmful elements of the virus in the form of a vaccine. There are several types of vaccines, ranging from inactivated vaccines, attenuated live vaccines to modern mRNA vaccines. The general purpose of immunization is to prepare the body against said pathogen to lessen the risk of infection.

Nowadays, it becomes an important issue as the Covid-19 prevention program spreads all over the world. Covid-19 immunization is aimed to enhance the immune capacity against the Covid-19 virus in hopes of preventing infection and decreasing Covid-19 hospitalization or mortality. There are numerous Covid-19 currently available, such as Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in the United States. They are all proven to be quite effective, lowering up to 90 percent risk of infection and hospitalization up to 94 percent.

Immunization side effects

Despite the benefits of vaccines, people must be aware of possible immunization side effects. The most common ones are fever, fatigue, chills, headache, and soreness or redness at the injection site. These can be good signs, though, as they show that the body reacts appropriately to the vaccine by initiating the immune response. Most of these mild symptoms will subside after a few days. Yet, there are growing concerns about delayed or persistent side effects as several articles had pointed out. CDC had warned that side effects can happen up to six weeks after Covid-19 immunization.

There are also extremely rare but more severe side effects that may result after immunization. The risk of allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock is in constant attention regardless of the types of the vaccine. Or in the case of Covid-19, AstraZeneca vaccines may induce thrombotic thrombocytopenia, a clotting disorder that occurs in one in 100,000 vaccinated people. Myocarditis, an inflammation of heart muscles, had been reported in people vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna with odds of about one in a million. Moreover, FDA recently announced that in sporadic cases, the J&J vaccine was linked to incidences of Guillan-Barré syndrome.

Fortunately, most vaccines, especially mRNA ones, are generally able to undergo rapid elimination out of the body after exerting their desired effects, further reducing the odds of those lasting side effects. That being said, scientists need to provide solutions to minimize any discomfort people may have soon or long after their immunization.

Medicinal mushrooms may minimize immunization side effects

Systemic inflammation underlies the process that leads to immunization side effects. Studies show that natural agents, such as medicinal mushrooms, can play a vital role in alleviating these side effects by under-regulating inflammatory pathways. For instance, Agaricus blazei demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties in a study, being able to reduce proinflammatory cytokines and exert antioxidant effects in peripheral leukocytes. Scientists also found that it could reduce plasma IL-1Ra level and increase T-regulatory cells, indicating a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Similarly, Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) showed a beneficial effect when used as an adjunct supplement alongside influenza immunization as it alleviates common cold symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, fever, chill, and malaise. When compared to the placebo group, symptoms among subjects in the Maitake group decreased up to 50%. These effects were believed to be due to the ability of Maitake mushrooms to activate both the innate and adaptive immune system.

By regulating inflammatory response and enhancing the immune system, medicinal mushrooms are expected to be able to improve symptoms associated with immunization. Used alone or alongside OTC pharmaceutical agents as prophylactic or symptomatic drugs, hopefully vaccinated people would experience minimal discomfort after their immunization, including Covid-19 immunization.