CDC: Women report more side effects from COVID-19 vaccine

Mackenzie Davis
Updated: March 17, 2021 10:26 AM
Created: March 16, 2021 04:48 PM

(ABC 6 News) - The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have seen more women reporting reactions and side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine than men, and it may be too early to say exactly why.

An observation by the CDC shows that nearly 80% of people who are experiencing side effects from the vaccine are women.

"The great majority, usually over 90%, are not serious reactions," Lynn Bahta, immunization clinical consultant at MDH Immunization Program, said.

Bahta also on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the CDC.

Common symptoms reported are feeling tired for a day or two after getting the vaccine, a sore arm, headaches, chills, and sometimes a fever.

Allergic reactions that have needed medical attention have been rare.

"The frequency is about 5 cases per million doses. So it's a very rare event. We're talking about really small numbers," Bahta said.

It is important to note that women who are reporting side effects are voluntarily reporting them.

"In the early part of this vaccination program, we were vaccinating a lot of people in the health care setting in which you see a larger proportion of females compared to males. So, again that might skew some of the data," Bahta said.

As well as women in nursing homes and long-term care.

"Women live longer than men so you're going to be vaccinating more women," Bahta said.

Overall, the vaccine is being well-tolerated and there are no serious patterns of concern.

Bahta said people will often feel lousy for a day or two after they've been vaccinated. But that is far safer than feeling sick for 2 or 3 and sometimes months long with covid.

Younger, vaccinated individuals also reported feeling those side effects more than older individuals.

This is most likely because of how our immune systems are responding to the vaccine.

"When you're younger, you're going to respond very robustly, really strongly. As we get older, so does our immune system," Bahta said.

The side effects reported are not results of one COVID-19 vaccine type over another. Side effects have been reported from all three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson). However, the J & J vaccine may give you the side effects you would have from the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna because of it being a one-dose vaccine.


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