Why are men getting COVID-19 vaccines less frequently than women?

gender vaccine gap covid
Photo via Marco Verch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • Historically, men are less likely to be proactive about preventative care
  • The divide sits just under 10%, with vaccination rates declining for all 
  • Men also get fewer flu vaccinations

Some health departments will be launching COVID-19 vaccination campaigns to target men. It’s not because men are more likely to have a harder time with COVID-19 or because more men have died from the viral infection than women. It’s because there’s a gender vaccine gap. 

Data collected by The Sex, Gender, and COVID-19 Project at University College London show men are getting vaccinated for the virus at much lower ratesnearly 10% less— than their female counterparts. As of mid-May 2021, 38.5% of adult U.S. men have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, while 43.3% of women have received their vaccination. 

One reason may be is that there is already a gender gap in elderly populations, which were first prioritized to receive the vaccine. Most people over the age of 65 in the U.S. are women, and so are most people in healthcare, service industry, and teaching jobs—which were also a priority for vaccination. 

Preventative healthcare patterns— like choosing not to smoke or going to the doctor— are being expressed in vaccination trends, as noted in a New York Times article. Men, as a whole, have always been less likely to be proactive with their health, Lindsey Leininger, a health policy researcher and clinical professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College told the newspaper.

The coronavirus vaccine is apparently no exception.

Ideals of masculinity have long been reflected in healthcare practices, and a similar divide was present in the 2019-2020 influenza vaccination season. As noted by Time, 52% of U.S. women were vaccinated for the flu, while only 44% of men got their shot. 

Read more on the coronavirus vaccines:

Sources: The New York Times, Healthline, Reuters, Time

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