FDA preprint studies on seizures and strokes garner attention

An FDA assessment detected a potential increased stroke risk for adults over 85 following the flu vaccine, whether or not it was administered at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine. While the results are preliminary and health experts have stated that the benefits of vaccination still outweigh the risks, social media posts about this study are framing vaccines as dangerous. Much of the conversation has focused on COVID-19 vaccines, even though the study did not detect an increased risk following COVID-19 bivalent vaccination. Some posts mentioned also another recent preprint, which discussed a potential connection between the vaccine and seizures in toddlers. These posts have led to widespread concerns about COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Risk level: High

Recommendation: Cherry-picking data is a common tactic used to spread false narratives. Claims that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe for older adults and young children may discourage patients from getting the updated COVID-19 vaccine and from vaccinating their children against COVID-19. Messaging may emphasize that severe adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are extremely rare, and that the flagging of these potential risks is an example of our country’s vaccine monitoring systems in action. Staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations substantially reduces the risk of dying from COVID-19, of COVID-19-related hospitalization, and of long COVID, and the benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the risks across age groups.