Yes, you read that title correctly. *Cue a protest in the comments section. *
But seriously, your body is truly incredible. Every single day, your immune system fights off hidden bacteria, viruses, and parasites to keep you safe.
Regardless of how strong your immune system is, it won’t always be able to stop you from getting sick; that’s where traditionally, vaccines have come in. I believe everyone is entitled to their own choices, and I’m not here to judge, but whether you’re pro or anti-vax, the truth is, vaccines are here to stay, so it’s essential to be across what they are and how they work, that way you can make informed choices and decide what is best for you. You can use this protocol whether you are vaccinated or not the choice is up to you.
What is a vaccine, and what does it do to the body?
A vaccine is a biological product that induces an immune response to protect the body against infection and disease. There are a variety of vaccines that work in different ways.
What are the different COVID-19 vaccines available, and how do they work?
COVID-19 has urged the scientific community to find solutions quickly. Mostly, the technologies used to create these vaccines have been around for several years. Here are some of the more common vaccines you might have heard of broken down simply.
AstraZeneca (viral vector type)
AstraZeneca is a modified, low-pathogenic virus that functions as a vector to shuttle pathogenic antigens into host cells, inducing an immune response against the target pathogen. In this case, the target pathogen is SARS-CoV-2.1
Pfizer (mRNA type)
Pfizer is a nucleic acid-based vaccine consisting of mRNA sequences that help proteins in the body induce an immune response and code for a COVID-specific antigen.2
The cells use the instructions contained in the RNA to produce the spike protein (SARS-CoV-2). Immune cells recognise the spike protein as foreign and initiate an immune response against it.
The data indicates that Pfizer is up to 90% effective by day 21, reducing COVID-19 infections and decreasing symptom severity.3 However the latest research shows that the effects of waning immunity may be beginning to show in Israel and more time and investigation is needed.
Moderna (mRNA type)
Moderna has just been approved in Australia, and Dolly Parton donated $1 million to help fund it, so you know it must be good. Like Pfizer, Moderna is a synthetic mRNA vaccine. It uses a genetic code that triggers the production of the coronavirus’s protein in the body, which helps immune cells fight it.3
Novavax (sub unit protein type)
Coronavirus is studded with spike proteins that it uses to enter human cells. The Novavax uses recombinant nanoparticle technology, which teaches the immune system to make antibodies to the spike protein. So, if someone were to receive Novavax and then get exposed to the virus, the antibodies would lock onto the spike proteins, and coronavirus won’t be able to enter cells, blocking the infection.12
In one clinical trial, adult participants conferred over 89% protection against COVID-19 after two doses of the Novavax vaccine.12
Johnson & Johnson (viral vector type)
Johnson & Johnson is a viral vector vaccine, where a vector enters the cells in the body and uses the cell’s machinery to produce a spike protein. The cells then display the spike protein on its surface, and the immune system recognises it doesn’t belong there. This triggers the immune system to begin producing antibodies and activating other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection. In the end, the body learns how to protect itself against future infection.
Unfortunately, Johnson & Johnson is only 66.3% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections in clinical trials.13 It did, however, prevent hospitalisation and death for people who did get sick.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
Side effects are common with any vaccination. Most adverse effects associated with these vaccines have been transient, lasting up to 72 hours. They include pain at the injection site, headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches and pains.4
You may have heard, AstraZeneca has been linked to blood clots (thrombosis) and low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia).11 While the risk of either of these is low, it is estimated to be higher in those under 60.
If you are unsure and want to find out more about the possible risks of vaccinations, VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) records and investigates adverse effects. You can read more about it here.
I recommend speaking to your doctor to find out what is most suitable for you, particularly if you have pre-existing conditions.
What can you do to protect your body before, during, and after the vaccine?
If you choose to vaccinate, supporting your immune system through specific practices, such as a healthy diet, can enhance the efficacy of a vaccine and reduce your chances of experiencing potential side effects.
The Weeks Prior:
To stay well, actively supporting your immune system is essential. Optimising your physical and psychological health every day is the single best thing you can do to help your immune system before a vaccine.
The state of the gut microbiome can impact the immune system’s response to COVID-19. The research indicates that adverse reactions to the vaccine can be due to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut.5 So, before you receive the vaccine, support your gut health as much as possible. Head here for a gut health 101.
Nutrient-Rich Whole Foods
While there’s not enough research to indicate that a nutrient-rich diet will make the vaccine more effective, in general, eating a nutritious diet supports the immune system. Focusing on increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods is vital for helping the immune system thrive. Here’s the 411 on inflammation.
The Day Before:
As a qualified clinical nutritionist, one of the most regular questions I’m asked about in my clinic is whether there is a specific protocol for vaccinations.
My COVID-19 Vaccine Protocol can help prepare your body for any potential side effects. If you choose to go down this road, I recommend implementing the following;
1. Stay Hydrated
It’s no secret that hydration is important for your health. Natural side effects of dehydration include fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps, which are also common side effects of the vaccine. By avoiding dehydration, you can help reduce these side effects from occurring. Aim for eight glasses of water a day, and add one more for every cup of coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated tea.
2. Increase Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an integral role in regulating immune function and can help neutralise infections by stimulating white blood cells.6-7 Vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher levels of bodily inflammation and fewer antibodies to fight infection, which may exacerbate adverse reactions to the vaccine.
The best way to increase your vitamin D intake is through spending time in the sun. You can also obtain vitamin D from salmon, egg yolks, sardines, and mushrooms that have been exposed to natural sunlight. I recommend getting your vitamin D levels tested to assess whether supplementation is necessary.
3. Prioritise Sleep and Rest
While the jury’s still out on the effectiveness of hitting the hay before the COVID vax, short sleep duration before other vaccinations have proven to result in lower antibody responses to the vaccine, making it less effective.8 Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep before the vaccine. My Pumpkin Almond Bake is mood-lifting and sleep-enhancing, making it a perfect side dish to try the night before vax-day.
4. Manage Your Stress
Stress is a no-go when it comes to preparing for your vaccine. While acute stress impacts the liver, which affects our mRNA expression, chronic stress impacts the microbiome, leading to less effective vaccine metabolism.8 Head here for ten of my favourite ways to manage stress.
5. Zinc is Zinc-credible!
Zinc is one of the most underrated immune-boosting minerals on the planet. It’s involved in several aspects of the immune system, helping to guide the normal development of immune cells.9 It can also improve the metabolism of the vaccine.
Unfortunately, zinc is deficient in most modern diets. Increase your zinc intake by consuming oysters, seafood, beans, nuts, whole grains, and seeds or supplement if necessary.
6. Emphasise Omega-3
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, which means our body cannot produce it by itself and needs to be consumed through the diet. Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that work together to fight inflammation, which may help reduce COVID-19 vaccination side effects. Find EPA and DHA in fish, krill and algal oil supplements and oily fish, such as salmon, herring, and sardines.
Unlike EPA and DHA, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a short-chain acid found in flax, chia, and hemp seeds. ALA is not biologically active and must be converted by the liver into EPA and DHA for the body to use. Unfortunately, this conversion process is relatively inefficient, with approximately 5% for EPA and 3.8% for DHA.10 So, consume ALA-rich foods with EPA and DHA-rich foods.
7. Favour Fulvic Humic
Fulvic Humic helps carry nutrients into the cells and makes cell membranes more permeable, which may help in improving the metabolism of the vaccine to improve its effectiveness.14 Fulvic Humic also allows for a higher volume and more usable form of nutrients to enter the body, crucial for replenishing the gut microbiome and immune system. As the vaccine causes immune dysregulation, Fulvic Humic Concentrate is a welcome addition.
Current research indicates that Fulvic Humic is incredibly anti-inflammatory and beneficial for the immune system.14 Dilute up to 3 drops of Fulvic Humic Concentrate 3 times a day in your water bottle for maximum impact.
After the Vaccine
1. Win With Water
Ensure you’re well-hydrated to reduce any possible side effects. Aim for at least eight cups of water a day.
2. Prioritise Sleep and Rest
The vaccine can trigger fatigue, so if you can, take it easy the day after your vaccine and prioritise rest.8 Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep and watch your stimulant intake. If you want more tips on how to up-level your sleep routine, click here.
3. Nourish your Body
Continue to nourish your body with colourful, anti-inflammatory fruit and vegetables. I know you'll love my antioxidant-rich salad.
4. Quercetin and Vitamin C
Quercetin is a plant pigment (flavonoid) which has promising signs when it comes to symptoms. It's safe and in combination with vitamin C, could aid in improving the severity of vaccine side effects. It displays a broad range of antiviral properties which can interfere at multiple steps of pathogen virulence -virus entry, virus replication, protein assembly- and these therapeutic effects can be augmented by the co-administration of vitamin C15.
For the Second Shot:
Repeat this protocol for the second shot. It typically takes two weeks after the second vaccination for the body to build protection against COVID-19, so focus on hygiene and rest.
As always, this information is general. I recommend speaking to your healthcare practitioner to help you figure out what’s most suitable for you.
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2Zhang C, Maruggi G, Shan H, Li J. Advances in mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases. Front Immunol. 2019 Mar 27;10:594. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00594.
3Mahase E. Covid-19: Israel sees new infections plummet following vaccinations BMJ 2021;372:n338 doi:10.1136/bmj.n338.
4Kaur, S. P., & Gupta, V. (2020). COVID-19 Vaccine: A comprehensive status report. Virus research, 288, 198114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virusres.2020.198114
6Fisher SA, Rahimzadeh M, Brierley C, Gration B, Doree C, Kimber CE, et al. The role of vitamin D in increasing circulating T regulatory cell numbers and modulating T regulatory cell phenotypes in patients with inflammatory disease or in healthy volunteers: A systematic review. PLoS One. 2019 Sep 24;14(9):e0222313. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222313.
7Manzano-Alonso ML, Castellano-Tortajada G. Reactivation of hepatitis B virus infection after cytotoxic chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy. World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Mar 28;17(12):1531-7. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i12.
8Zimmermann P, Curtis N. Factors that influence the immune response to vaccination. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2019 Mar 13;32(2):e00084-18.: 10.1128/CMR.00084-18.
9Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide. 3rd ed. Sydney (AU): Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone; 2010. p. 1037-51.
10Gerster H. (1998). Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)?. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition, 68(3), 159–173.
11Australia’s Vaccine Agreements. Australian Government Department of Health. 2021.
12Saddof, J., Gray, G., et al. (2021). Safety and Efficacy of NVX-CoV2373 Covid-19 Vaccine. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2021, 384.
13Saddof, J., Gray, G., et al. (2021). Safety and Efficacy of Single-Dose Ad26.COV2.S Vaccine against Covid-19. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2021, 384.
14Winkler, J., & Ghosh, S. (2018). Therapeutic Potential of Fulvic Acid in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Diabetes. Journal of diabetes research, 2018, 5391014. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/5391014