Dr. Sabra L. Klein, an assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Phyllis Greenberger, the president and chief executive of the nonprofit Society for Women’s Health Research, recently wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times called, "Do Women Need Such Big Flu Shots?".

Image: McAlpin, NYdailynews.com

Image: McAlpin, NYdailynews.com

The gist of their argument is actually based on the same idea as many of our recent blog entries: women, on average, have a much stronger immune system than men. The authors cite studies that demonstrate that women produce more antibodies in response to the same vaccine dose than men do. The authors conclude that women could therefore be given a smaller dose of the H1N1 flu vaccine and still get the same protection; the vaccine that is saved by giving women smaller doses would allow more people to get the much in-demand shot.

It's an interesting hypothesis that really highlights the need for more gender-aware research and clinical trials. Sure, women were included in the clinical trials of the vaccine, but were they ever tested with a more tailored dosage? I'd guess not; I'd imagine the tests were more simply on the efficacy of the standard, male-tailored dose in women, not on whether a different dose could work as well. I applaud the article for highlighting these questions that definitely need to be addressed!

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Comments

We were talking about this today! A friend just got a tetanus shot and felt like her arm was going to fall off, while her boyfriend (who's about twice her size) felt just fine. This "one-size fits all" approach to vaccines seems pretty silly to me.

More and more ordinary people are getting increasingly concerned about anyone having flu shots at all. There is no longer a vote of confidence about their necessity and there is certainly some alarm about their contents!

The quantity in the flu vaccine is not as important as the concept of vaccines for enhancing immunity in general. The body's defenses were never designed to respond to outside invaders directly into the blood--only though the nose or mouth or contact with the skin. The last major push to vaccinate the public with one of these "approved" vaccines resulted in multiple cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome and hundreds of deaths.

In all honesty flu shots are a waste of time and money. I believe people should focus on what is broken in their immune system rather going and get a quick fix. Fix the problem permanently. Most people that get the flu have very low Vitamin D levels. This is the first thing people should check if they are constantly struggling with the flu. Fix your body and stop letting the government tell you what your body needs. Encourage intelligence not ignorance please.

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