By Ajayi Oluwatomisin.
As with most vaccines, side effects have been experienced with the Covid vaccine, ranging from the mild to more serious adverse reactions. Though Data released by the United States Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) shows that women are reporting worse side effects from the Covid Vaccine than men.
In February, the CDC released data on Adverse effects during the first month of the Covid-19 vaccine roll out, Finding that 72 percent of the side effects reported to the agency were from women despite receiving 61 percent of the vaccine doses. Statistics also show that women are not only more prone to experience covid-19 vaccine side effects but are also predisposed to experience more severe side effects compared to men.
Experts weren’t particularly suprised by this data, as similar effects have been observed with other vaccines too. The statistical disparity in the response to the vaccine by both sexes can be attributed to a number of factors; Including hormones, genes, behavior and the dosing of the shots.
It has been proven over time that Women exert a stronger immune response to vaccines than men and experts say that’s the most probable reason for the more intense side effects. Researchers suspect that in women, particularly pre-menopausal women, the levels of estrogen aid in activating the immune response to illness and, therefore to vaccines. Men, on the other hand have more testosterone, a hormone that could repress the same response.
Genetic differences between men and women could also be a contributing factor as many immune related genes are on the X chromosome of which women have two and men have only one.
Behavioral differences could also play a role in influencing these results “as it’s possible that women are more likely than men to report side effects even when the symptoms are the same”. According to Rose Mary Morgan, a research scientist at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“The majority of side effects that people experience from the vaccines are minor”, added Rose morgan “and if you do experience a side effect, it means your immune system is working” (Your immune system is still working even if you don’t have side effects, she added).
Morgan also stated that “The fact that clinical research trials largely excluded women prior to 1993- along with bias that persists because researchers often don’t disaggregate data on adverse reactions by sex” might have contributed to this phenomenon.
Common side effects, women have been reporting include some specific issues that, in many cases, they have struggled to connect to the shot. Such adverse effects include; Swollen undearm lymph nodes, false positive mammograms, Heavy irregular periods after a covid vaccine shot and Blood clots. There have been frequent anecdotal reports of menstrual cycle changes in women after vaccination and while there’s little substantive evidence to link both, there are logical reasons to believe that the vaccination could be causing changes to periods. But these changes are not anything to worry about, Reproductive specialists say. While painful and unexpected periods can be unpleasant, they do not indicate any long term harm.
The major challenge now is to share this information while not raising concerns and ensuring that these reports do not deter them from taking the covid-19 vaccine.