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What makes some people more receptive to the idea of being vaccinated against infectious disease?

Three factors are identified as the primary motivators, according to new research published in Heliyon.

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Fear, trust, and the likelihood of exposure are three leading factors that influence whether people are willing to be vaccinated against a virulent disease, according to a new study in the journal Heliyon, published by Elsevier.

Following the highly-publicized 2014 outbreak of Ebola in Africa and anticipating the possibility of a future Ebola outbreak in the United States, a 2014 CNN/ORC poll asked a random sample of 1,018 adults if they would take an anti-Ebola vaccination if and when it became available. About half of the participants reported that they would, while half expressed hesitation or refusal, even if vaccination services for Ebola were available to them.

In the current study, investigators conducted a secondary analysis of that data to examine the factors contributing to vaccination receptivity vs. hesitation. They found that three factors primarily influenced receptivity: a general fear orientation; trust in government to contain a crisis; and the relative chance of being exposed to the pathogen. Interestingly, the effectiveness and safety of a vaccine itself was not among the factors influencing receptivity.

“Facing a raising number of epidemics that create public health dangers, our findings indicate that vaccine hesitancy is associated with social factors that are independent of the perceived effectiveness of vaccines. Willingness to take vaccination is positively associated with a generalized sense of fear, trust in the government’s ability to control an outbreak of the disease, and expectation of a potential Ebola outbreak that is imminent and proximate,” explains one of the study’s investigators, Kent P. Schwirian, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.

Professor Schwirian elaborated on how these three factors shape the willingness of half of the sample population to engage in the protective behavior of vaccination.

  • General Fear Orientation. Respondents expressed fear not only of being infected, but also more generally in terms of their outlook on life and how they perceive things are going overall in society today. The more than 60 percent who reported being somewhat or very scared about events in the US today were much more willing to consider an anti-Ebola vaccination than individuals who did not report this anxiety.
  • Trust in Government. People who expressed confidence in the US government’s ability to prevent an Ebola outbreak were much more willing to take the anti-Ebola vaccine than individuals who lacked confidence in the government to do so.
  • Exposure Expectancy of an Ebola Outbreak. While approximately 80 percent of the respondents thought that it was somewhat or highly likely that an Ebola outbreak would happen fairly soon in the US, most people thought that the outbreak would not happen in their local community or family. However, the closer in proximity they thought the outbreak would be to them, the more willing they were to take the anti-Ebola vaccination.

Gustavo S. Mesch, PhD, Professor of Sociology and Rector, University of Haifa, Israel, the study’s other investigator, recommends reexamining the research questions with more current data. “Our life and death struggle against lethal microbes is ultimately fought at the local level. Unless local hospitals and health care personnel are prepared to fight and ready to go, we are at a major disadvantage in attempting to save lives,” he cautions. “Confirming what percentage of the population would opt-in or out of vaccines, and the central role of trust in the government, would help public health officials plan their responses.” He added that the results also showed other factors that can be validated and explored, particularly that of older respondents who were more likely to be vaccine receptive, as were those with less formal education.

Vaccination is the primary public health response to the growing number of infectious diseases that infect the world’s population. At the same time, a growing anti-vax movement has spawned a small but vocal faction of the population, spreading hesitancy despite widespread evidence of vaccine efficacy and safety. The reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated or to have one’s children vaccinated was identified by the World Health Organization as one of the top ten global health threats of 2019. Understanding the factors that contribute to vaccination compliance or hesitancy is vital for controlling disease outbreaks.

While currently Ebola is largely confined to Africa, other infectious diseases loom closer to the US, such as the measles outbreak in several US states. Against this backdrop, it is important to evaluate the public’s willingness to participate in preventive public health measures and understand what distinguishes those who are willing to partake from those who are not.

Fitness

6 Exercise safety tips

Now, as social restrictions ease, you may find yourself stepping up your workouts, whether you’re training for an event or working to improve your game in a recreational league.

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are more aware of their health and wellness. Now, as social restrictions ease, you may find yourself stepping up your workouts, whether you’re training for an event or working to improve your game in a recreational league.

Sprains, strains and injuries can happen to even the most seasoned athletes. When you’re testing your limits, even a minor injury can alter your performance. Consider products and supports like these from the CURAD Performance Series product line, available at Walmart and Amazon, to help you get back in the game quickly and safely.

Find more resources to support your fitness journey at CURAD.com.

Keep Dirt and Germs Away

The more active you are, the harder it can be to find a bandage that stays with you all day or all game long.

Spray Away Sore Spots

Controlling mild pain can help keep you at the top of your game, and a topical analgesic works fast to heal common pain brought on by fitness and exercise, such as pain in knees, feet, shoulders and backs.

Put Pain in the Past

When recovery becomes the name of the game and pain relief is needed after daily workouts or bodily injuries. Cold packs work to heal bruises, reduce swelling and relieve headaches and general pain points while microwavable heat packs provide satisfying heat therapy to address sore and stiff joints, muscle cramps and tension.

Reduce Impact of Knee Strain

Weak, injured or arthritic knees can come from many sources, including tendonitis and a wide range of conditions that result in strain or overuse. An adjustable band can provide support for on-field sports and during workouts or everyday activities.

Manage Pain and Relieve Pressure

If you participate in endurance and strength exercises or certain sports, you may ask a lot of your joints. Kinesiology tape can be configured a multitude of ways to help reduce pain and improve blood circulation, as well as relieve tension and pressure.

Control Back Strain

When your back is strained, your body and performance can suffer. A mild or moderate sprain can benefit from strong support and compression.

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Fitness

Exercise can provide relief for dry, itchy eyes

A significant increase in tear secretion and tear film stability after participating in aerobic exercise can be another remedy for relieving dry, itchy eyes.

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Photo by Quinten de Graaf from Unsplash.com

A team led by researchers from the University of Waterloo discovered that a significant increase in tear secretion and tear film stability after participating in aerobic exercise can be another remedy for relieving dry, itchy eyes. 

Every time we blink, our eyes are covered in tear film—an essential protective coating necessary for maintaining healthy ocular function. Healthy tear film comprises three layers–oil, water, and mucin–that work together to hydrate the ocular surface and protect against infection-causing irritants like dust or dirt.

When any part of the tear film becomes unstable, the ocular surface can develop dry spots, causing eye symptoms like itchiness or stinging and burning sensations.

“With so much of our activity tied to screen usage, dry eye symptoms are becoming increasingly common,” said Heinz Otchere, a PhD candidate in vision science at Waterloo. “Instead of having to use eye drops or other alternative treatments, our study aimed to determine if remaining physically active can be an effective preventative measure against dryness.”

Fifty-two participants were divided into two groups—athlete and non-athlete—to participate in an exercise session. Participants in the athlete group exercised at least five times per week, while non-athlete participants exercised no more than once per week. Researchers, which included experts from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, performed visual examinations before and five minutes after each exercise session, where tear secretion and tear break-up time were assessed.

While participants in the athlete group showed the largest increase, Otchere says all participants experienced a meaningful boost in tear quantity and tear film stability after the exercise session. 

“It can be challenging for people to regularly exercise when the demand is there to work increasingly longer hours in front of screens,” Otchere said. “However, our findings show physical activity can be really important for not just our overall well-being, but for our ocular health too.”

The study, Differential effect of maximal incremental treadmill exercise on tear secretion and tear film stability in athletes and non-athletes, was co-authored by Otchere, the University of Cape Coast’s Samuel Abokyi, Sekyere Nyamaah, and Michael Ntodie, and Ghana’s Our Lady of Grace Hospital’s Yaw Osei Akoto. It was recently published in the Experimental Eye Research journal.

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Fitness

Late-life exercise shows rejuvenating effects on cellular level

Late-life exercise mitigates skeletal muscle epigenetic aging.

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Photo by Caley Vanular from Unsplash.com

For people who hate exercising, here comes some more bad news: it may also keep you younger. Not just looking younger, but actually younger, on an epigenetic level. By now, the benefits of exercise have been well established, including increased strength of bones and muscles, improved mobility and endurance, and lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

But younger?

A study recently published in Aging Cell, “Late-life exercise mitigates skeletal muscle epigenetic aging,” suggests this could be the case. The paper was written by a team of seven researchers across three institutions, including Kevin Murach, an assistant professor in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation at the U of A. Murach’s grant from the National Institute of Health funded the study, and he was one of three co-first authors.

Bootcamp for Mice

While the paper is dense with data, reflecting the use of several analytic tools, the experiment that generated the data was relatively straightforward. Lab mice nearing the end of their natural lifespan, at 22 months, were allowed access to a weighted exercise wheel. Generally, mice require no coercion to run and will do so voluntarily. Older mice will run anywhere from six to eight kilometers a day, mostly in spurts, while younger mice may run up to 10-12 kilometers. The weighted wheel ensured they built muscle. While there isn’t a direct analogue to most human exercise routines, Murach likened it to “a soldier carrying a heavy backpack many miles.”

When the mice were studied after two months of progressive weighted wheel running, it was determined that they were the epigenetic age of mice eight weeks younger than sedentary mice of the same age — 24 months. Murach noted that while the specific strain of mice and their housing conditions can impact lifespans, “historically, they start dropping off after 24 months at a significant rate.” Needless to say, when your lifespan is measured in months, an extra eight weeks — roughly 10 percent of that lifespan — is a noteworthy gain.

Methylation, My Dear Watson

The science behind this, while complicated, hinges largely on a biological process known as DNA methylation. A recent New York Times article discussing Murach’s work on muscle memory described methylation “as a process in which clusters of atoms, called methyl groups, attach themselves to the outside of genes like minuscule barnacles, making the genes more or less likely to turn on and produce particular proteins.”

As the body ages, there tends to be increased DNA methylation, or even hypermethylation, at promoter sites on genes in muscle. “DNA methylation changes in a lifespan tend to happen in a somewhat systematic fashion,” Murach explained, “to the point you can look at someone’s DNA from a given tissue sample and with a fair degree of accuracy predict their chronological age.” Due to this, researchers can use one of a number of “methylation clocks” to determine the age of a DNA sample.

DNA Methylation, Aging and Exercise

While the paper strengthens the case for exercise, there is still much that needs to be learned. Though the connection between methylation and aging is clear, the connection between methylation and muscle function is less clear. Murach is not yet prepared to say that the reversal of methylation with exercise is causative for improved muscle health. “That’s not what the study was set up to do,” he explained. However, he intends to pursue future studies to determine if “changes in methylation result in altered muscle function.”

“If so, what are the consequences of this?” he continued. “Do changes on these very specific methylation sites have an actual phenotype that emerges from that? Is it what’s causing aging or is it just associated with it? Is it just something that happens in concert with a variety of other things that are happening during the aging process? So that’s what we don’t know.”

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