Vaccine opponents resurface misleading claims about study linking flu vaccine to potential stroke risk

Social media posts in both English and Spanish resurfaced misleading claims about a study linking the flu vaccine with potential stroke risk and casting doubt on the vaccine’s safety. One user inaccurately claimed that older adults who received the flu vaccine had a stroke 42 days after being vaccinated. 

Recommendation: These claims began circulating in October 2023, when an FDA preprint study was released, and they present a narrative that flu vaccines are unsafe. This may discourage patients from getting this season’s flu vaccine and may promote skepticism about the safety of other vaccines. While the study found a slight increase in stroke risk in older adults who got a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the high-dose flu vaccine, a similar increased risk was also seen in people who only got the flu shot, indicating that the flu shot is the most likely source of the elevated risk. Messaging may emphasize that experts still recommend getting both vaccines because the benefits continue to outweigh the risks. The CDC recommends the flu vaccine and the updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. The CDC also recommends that immunocompromised patients and adults ages 65 and older receive an additional dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine this spring.