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Friday, January 31, 2014

Women and Men and Their Response to Flu Shots

Men and women, take note, there is is a new battle ground in the war of the sexes: our immune systems! Women respond to flu shots better than men do. And now here's the newest twist: getting vaccinated in the morning, gives you better protection than being vaccinated later in the day (in the studies morning mean 9 AM to 11 AM). This was proven in a study with higher antibody concentrations. All adults can benefit from protection against getting the flu, and getting a Flu shot seems to be one of the best ways to be protected. For women, we focus a lot of attention to getting your Flu shot early if you are pregnant! Babies aren't vaccinated against the flu for the first 6 months, so getting parents vaccinated is important. For men, oddly we are seeing that high levels of testosterone can lead to lower antibody levels in men. This seems to stem from both having a certain set of genes as well as the high testosterone. Women with the same genes were not shown to have problems responding to the flu shot, and we have not seen problems with women who are on hormone therapy or birth control pills having their flu shot be effective. In fact we think that the flu shot is more effective in women because of their estrogen levels.  If you get a shot, you are virtually assured of not getting seriously ill even if you do catch the flu. If you get a shot when pregnant, about 60+% of the babies are protected against getting the flu as well. Talk to your physician now about the importance of getting a flu shot, we hope that you all will see that flu shots are a great public health strategy as we prevent millions of cases of the flu each year with them.

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