Gender Differences in Immediate Hypersensitivity Reactions to Vaccines: A Review of the Literature




To examine published studies of immediate hypersensitivity reactions (IHS) following vaccination and to determine whether women are at an increased risk of developing IHS after vaccination.

Design and Sample

PubMed was reviewed for vaccine articles reporting IHS by gender through June 2012. Data were abstracted on type of study, vaccine, hypersensitivity reaction, and statistic reported.


Articles were included if they described experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational or descriptive studies and IHS was reported by gender.


Of 847 articles found in PubMed, 11 met the inclusion criteria. In eight studies, more women than men reported IHS, in two studies more men than women reported IHS and in one study the count was even.


Limited data from these studies suggest that women may have higher rates of IHS reactions following vaccination than men. Limitations to the available data include the lack of denominator data and that the definition of IHS was not consistent across the studies. Large-scale population-based studies are indicated to determine if there are differences in rates by gender and biologic basis for these differences.