Women report more side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine than men. Health experts explain why.

Reports of COVID-19 vaccine side effects support what many have anecdotally observed: women shoulder the bigger burden.

Among nearly 7,000 reports processed through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) from Dec. 14 to Jan. 13, more than 79% of them came from women. The most frequently reported side effects were headache, fatigue and dizziness.

Women also are more likely than men to experience some of the vaccine’s more unusual side effects, such as an itchy red rash that appears at the injection site commonly known as COVID arm or Moderna arm, as about 95% of the reactions occur with the Moderna vaccine. Overall, women account for 77% of the Moderna vaccine’s reported side effects.

These side effects – even if unusual – are a good sign the vaccine is working to arm the body’s immune system against the coronavirus. But why are women more likely to experience them than men?

Health experts say it may be due to biological differences, inconsistent reporting by men and gender bias in clinical trials.

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