What we know about COVID vaccine side effects in women

Women have been more likely than men to report adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines — and public-health experts say preparing them for the range of possible side effects could help combat vaccine hesitancy.

Women accounted for about 79% of adverse-event reports — most of them deemed “nonserious” — related to Pfizer PFE, +0.94% -BioNTech BNTX, +1.70% and Moderna MRNA, -2.58% coronavirus vaccine doses administered in the U.S. from Dec. 14 to Jan. 13, despite receiving only 61% of administered doses, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

Anaphylaxis, a rare but potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, has also occurred overwhelmingly in women who received the two mRNA vaccines.

U.S. health officials last week also announced a pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson JNJ, -0.74% vaccine to examine reports of ultra-rare blood clots that appear to disproportionately affect women. The clotting issue is similar to one observed with the AstraZeneca AZN, -0.55% vaccine — also seen primarily in women — in the European Union and U.K.

The six blood-clot cases initially identified in the U.S. occurred in women ages 18 to 48; one woman died, and another was in critical condition. The list of cases later grew to include a seventh woman and one man, the New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, reports of post-vaccination lymph node swelling have spurred concern over potential false positives in breast-cancer screenings. And researchers, based on emerging anecdotal reports, are gathering survey data from people who say they experienced unusual short-term changes in their menstrual cycle after getting vaccinated.

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