Background: Following vaccination of children using high-titre live measles vaccine, excess non-specific mortality was reported, particularly among females. Since vaccination with live measles virus results in a temporary depression of the immune response to other antigens, the female predominance in subsequent non-measles mortality may be due to sex differences in response to live measles vaccines. Methods: In this study, the immunogenicity of standard titre live Sdiwarz strain measles vaccine was examined 2 and 4 weeks post-vaccination in 223 males and 66 female aged 18-20 years in Israel in 1991. Results: Females had higher post-vaccination geometric mean titre (GMT) at all levels of pre-vaccination titres at both 2 and 4 weeks. Furthermore, after controlling for differences in pre-vaccination titres, overall the post-vaccination GMT for females was about 50% higher than for males (P < 0.001). Conclusions: These findings indicate that females exhibit a stronger humoral immune response to measles vaccine. Possible sex differences in immunosuppression following measles vaccination should be explored.
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