Last year I was asked to make a short summary of the literature regarding the differences in vaccine hesitancy between males and females. I came across the text again and decided to publish it.

In studies where men and women were surveyed regarding their attitude towards being vaccinated themselves (opposing taking the decision as a proxy for children or other people), I found the following trends for (central) European women:

High compliance when the vaccines are part of the established and recommended vaccination plan from the health authorities of their country.

Hesitancy towards vaccines that are in the market for a long-time but are not part of the recommended vaccination plan.

Even higher hesitancy regarding vaccination against pathogens that can be avoided by avoiding “risky” behaviours (e.g., hepatitis A), or for which behaviour changes can significantly decrease the risk of exposure (e.g., influenza). Importantly, this attitude is accompanied by high self-report of adoption of preventive measures (e.g., washing hands and food).

Hesitancy regarding novel vaccines is high, but only when the perceived risk of infection, disease severity or long-term consequences are low (e.g., swine flu). Interestingly, hesitancy is low (matching that of the general population) when the perceived risks of infection, disease severity or long-term consequences are high.

Women are mostly hesitant due to risk of side effects, whereas when men show high hesitancy when they perceive themselves as healthier and more capable of positively enduring the infection.

NOTES: This is a summary of a short list of studies performed in the last 10-15 years (with higher prevalence of papers published between 2015 and 2020), that as much as possible look into sex differences in “self-vaccination”


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