Gender can affect immune system response

A new study reports that gender can play a role in how an immune system responds to certain vaccines and their side effects.

The study was reported in this month's issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The study grew out of prior research about vaccines for diseases such as yellow fever, influenza, hepatitis, herpes simplex, measles, mumps and rubella, according to a report by US News & World.

"Sex can affect the frequency and severity of adverse effects of vaccination, including fever, pain and inflammation," lead author Sabra Klein, an assistant professor in the department of molecular microbiology and immunology at John Hopkins in Baltimore, said, according to the report. "This is likely due to the fact that women typically mount stronger immune responses to vaccinations compared to men."

The study also examined how hormonal changes during pregnancies impacted the effect of vaccines in prior tests.

According to the report, Klein said the research team found that many of the studies they re-examined had not tracked how or if gender influenced the effectiveness of the vaccines.

Because the team was, in some cases, the first to chart differences in how major vaccines impacted the two genders differently, Klein said more research is needed to help determine what impact gender plays in vaccinations because more information could result in new ways to developing vaccination programs, the report states.