Vaccines are now part of our daily conversations.
Last week, I emailed a mentor and asked her she’d gotten her second vaccine yet. Yesterday, my best friend texted me in all-caps announcing that she had just scheduled an appointment for her first vaccine.
But, as much as we’ve already heard about the COVID-19 vaccine, there is still more fascinating info coming out seemingly every week.
One such piece of news is that researchers have found that women are having stronger reactions to the COVID vaccine than men are. While this might sound weird and surprising at first, there are reasons behind it. And this phenomenon has some good news for women—but also some bad.
Why Women and Men Are Experiencing the COVID Vaccine Differently
Most of us have heard by now that there can be some icky side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. Some have felt mild symptoms, like lethargy or headaches. While others have been thrown into full-on fever, chills, nausea, etc.
Overall, women have been experiencing more of these side effects than men have.
Well, on the whole, women tend to have more robust immune systems than men do. This may have something to do with the [hormone levels in our bodies](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6119719/#:~:text=Generally%20testosterone%20has%20an%20immunosuppressive,response%20(21%2C%2022). Estrogen increases the immune response (immunoenhancing effect), while testosterone can dampen it (immunosuppressive effect).
Because women have stronger immune systems, they show more of the signs of the body fighting off infection. Because men have weaker immune systems, they show fewer.
The Bad News for Women
The bad news here is pretty clear: Women, in general, are going to have a rougher time in that post-vaccine recovery period. We may get hit harder with those nasty side effects and end up in bed for a few days.
However, as long as symptoms stay within the normal, expected range of responses to the vaccine, there’s likely nothing to worry about. Just be prepared for a couple of not-so-fun days (or, if you’ve had it, you might have already made it through the rough patch!).
The Good News for Women
Though feeling crummy is never fun, there is a huge upside for women to this gender difference.
Side effects typically mean the vaccine is working and that your body is learning how to fight off the Coronavirus. The whole point of getting stuck with needles is to enable our bodies to better protect us, so this is damn good news!
So, for the women out there, if you end up feverish in bed after the COVID-19 vaccine, don’t despair for your gender—just be glad that our immune systems are fighting the good fight in this pandemic.