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Springfield medical experts explain why women may see more side effects from COVID-19 vaccines

Women tend to have greater reactions to vaccines
Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 4:46 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 7:53 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A trend is emerging as vaccinations in the United States near 100 million: More women are reporting after effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Of the nearly 100 million COVID-19 vaccines administered, 61% were women. Most of those women reported side effects. A recent CDC report found that, as of late February, reports of side effects were coming at a higher rate from females.

Lisa Cillessen, a clinical pharmacist with Jordan Valley Health Center, said, “There are reports that females have a more stronger immune response from vaccines which leads to more side effects from the vaccines.”

One theory for a stronger reaction in females is a difference in hormones, such as lower testosterone compared to men.

“Testosterone can be immunosuppressive. Men have more testosterone in their system so that could cause less of an immune response,” Cillessen said.

Reactions to vaccines in women are nothing new. Research from the Center for Disease Control shows women have more reactions to a variety of vaccines, such as flu vaccines, hepatitis B, and measles.

The trend may also be behavioral. Women are more likely to report their vaccine after effects.

“Females are often more apt to report those kinds of things. They also more likely to go to the doctor’s office,” Cillessen said.

Mercy Hospital is warning everyone to be prepared for seeing side effects after the first and second dose. Vaccine after-effects vary from person to person.

Dr. Heather Dearing, an infectious disease doctor with Mercy Hospital, said, “Side effects are faced with any vaccine, not just the COVID vaccine, muscle aches and pains, joint aches and pains, fever, site pain.”

Side effects start popping up 12 to 24 hours after the dose. Most of these side effects are mild and clear up within 36 hours.

Dr. Dearing says do not let these side effects deter you from getting the vaccine.

“I would be more concerned if I didn’t have any reaction at all. That would make me think that my body is not responding to that vaccine and then I’m not as positively covered,” Dr. Dearing said.

If you do experience any side effects from the vaccine, you are asked to report them. You can report your side effects using the two reporting tools below.

Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is an existing national surveillance system for vaccines. VAERS accepts reports from health care providers, vaccine manufacturers, and the public.

V-safe is a safety monitoring system established by CDC specifically for the COVID-19 vaccine. After enrollment, a text message will be sent providing links to web surveys. The week following the vaccine, you will be asked to fill out daily surveys asking about reactions. You will also be asked if any work was missed because of the vaccine, or if you were unable to perform routine activities.

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