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Will social distancing weaken my immune system?

Will social distancing weaken my immune system? AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin

Will social distancing weaken my immune system?

In short, no.

Some worry a lack of contact with others will weaken their immune system by reducing its active contact with germs.

But even when we’re staying 6 feet from others or spending most of our time at home, our bodies are continuously responding to plenty of bacteria and other germs that inhabit indoor and outdoor environments.

“We’re constantly exposed to microbes,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immune system researcher at Yale University. “Our immune system is always being triggered.”

The effects of childhood vaccines and other built-up immunity are also long-lasting, Iwasaki said, and won’t disappear overnight because we’re keeping our distance from others during the pandemic.

Experts say anyone looking to boost their immune health during the pandemic should practice habits such as stress management, healthy eating, regular exercise and getting enough sleep.

“These are the things that actually affect the immune system,” Iwasaki said.

A seasonal flu shot will also help protect you from one more potential illness.

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The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org.

Read previous Viral Questions:

How does the coronavirus affect the heart?

Does the flu vaccine affect my chances of getting COVID-19?

Am I immune to the coronavirus if I’ve already had it?


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States