Flu Vaccine: Men Vs. Women
Reported December 2010
BALTIMORE, MD (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- 200 thousand people were hospitalized with the flu last season and more than 36 thousand died from it. Itís important that everyone from six months of age and older get a flu shot every year. The shots are the same for everyone, but that doesnít mean men and womenís bodies respond the same to it.
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Most people know, get a flu shot or risk getting the flu. But if youíre a man, those aches and pains might be worse. Now, microbiologistís and immunologistís at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health say that women who receive a flu shot, may be better protected against getting the virus, than men.
"When the immune system of a woman sees a vaccine, their immune system mounts a much higher response, we have more cells in place that are going to protect us than our male counterparts," Sabra Klein, Ph.D., a microbiologist and immunologist at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, in Baltimore, told Ivanhoe.
A vaccine is a weakened or dead virus when it enters the body. Our immune system recognizes the vaccine cells as foreign and starts making an army of cells to fight off the disease. Researchers believe a womanís body makes more cells to fight the virus, and that higher levels of the hormone estrogen may help the body respond better to a vaccine.
"It may be that women need less or a smaller dose of a vaccine than do men," Dr. Klein explained.
The downside, woman report more severe and frequent side effects like fever, inflammation and pain.
"Itís not just that women are complaining more, itís that physiologically because the way in which our bodies respond to the vaccine, we do in fact experience more of these adverse side effects than men," Klein said.
Although you canít decide whether to be born a boy or a girl, you can change your chances of getting the flu. One shot lowers your risk by 50 percent. Researchers found that pregnant women had a lower immune response to a vaccine than non-pregnant women. They also found the same robust immune responses when testing other vaccines including yellow fever, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis and herpes simplex.
The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
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