A recent study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has found evidence that the flu vaccine is more effective in women than men. Even when women get the flu, the study suggests that they are better at fighting off the virus.
This disparity between men and women can be explained by hormone levels. The hormone estrogen, which is present in much higher amounts in women, is key to fighting off infections.
Some doctors have connected estrogen’s ability to beat back infections with women’s role as mothers. “They have to take care of not only themselves, but their families,” said Dr. Jake Deutsch, clinical director at the New York-based CURE Urgent Care.
The Stanford study is particularly relevant this winter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently classified this year’s flu season as having reached “epidemic” proportions. Meanwhile, a CDC study has concluded that the current flu vaccine’s effectiveness has plummeted to a low of 23 percent — one of the worst performances of the last decade.
“This is an uncommon year,” said Dr. Alicia Fry of the CDC.
The flu vaccine’s effectiveness varies from year to year, but its possible side effects do not.
Often these are mild, such as a runny nose, a sore throat, or a fever. But sometimes the flu vaccine can have serious side effects — and these affect men and women equally.
One possible negative reaction is the autoimmune disease Guillain-Barré Syndrome. GBS is characterized by the body’s immune system attacking its nerves. Those who suffer from GBS often have trouble with basic motor skills, such as controlling facial movements, chewing, or swallowing. These symptoms spread slowly throughout a person’s body and can eventually lead to paralysis.
Fortunately, the condition is rare — roughly one in 100,000 people contracts GBS.
For those who suffer from GBS, help is available in the form of a federal government program.
In 1988, Congress established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to help those suffering from vaccine-related injuries. Last year, the VICP offered an average reward of $500,000.
The Program can compensate folks for injuries caused by any number of vaccines. To see the most up-to-date list, check out the vaccine injury compensation table on the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As the flu season continues, men might come down with the flu more often than women, even after receiving the vaccine. But for those men and women who suffer vaccine-related injuries, the VICP can help.
If you have suffered from a negative shot reaction, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, shoulder pain, or any other illness subsequent to receiving a vaccination, please contact an attorney today. Vaccine attorney Leah Durant is available to provide you with a free telephone consultation. This vaccine attorney is a seasoned litigator whose practice is dedicated to serving those injured by vaccines.
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