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Surveillance for Adverse Events After COVID-19 mRNA Vaccination

JAMA. Published online September 3, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.15072

Key Points

Question Are mRNA COVID-19 vaccines associated with increased risk for serious health outcomes during days 1 to 21 after vaccination?

Findings In this interim analysis of surveillance data from 6.2 million persons who received 11.8 million doses of an mRNA vaccine, event rates for 23 serious health outcomes were not significantly higher for individuals 1 to 21 days after vaccination compared with similar individuals at 22 to 42 days after vaccination.

Meaning This analysis found no significant associations between vaccination with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and selected serious health outcomes 1 to 21 days after vaccination, although CIs were wide for some rate ratio estimates and additional follow-up is ongoing.


Importance Safety surveillance of vaccines against COVID-19 is critical to ensure safety, maintain trust, and inform policy.

Objectives To monitor 23 serious outcomes weekly, using comprehensive health records on a diverse population.

Design, Setting, and Participants This study represents an interim analysis of safety surveillance data from Vaccine Safety Datalink. The 10 162 227 vaccine-eligible members of 8 participating US health plans were monitored with administrative data updated weekly and supplemented with medical record review for selected outcomes from December 14, 2020, through June 26, 2021.

Exposures Receipt of BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) or mRNA-1273 (Moderna) COVID-19 vaccination, with a risk interval of 21 days for individuals after vaccine dose 1 or 2 compared with an interval of 22 to 42 days for similar individuals after vaccine dose 1 or 2.

Main Outcomes and Measures Incidence of serious outcomes, including acute myocardial infarction, Bell palsy, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, myocarditis/pericarditis, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. Incidence of events that occurred among vaccine recipients 1 to 21 days after either dose 1 or 2 of a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine was compared with that of vaccinated concurrent comparators who, on the same calendar day, had received their most recent dose 22 to 42 days earlier. Rate ratios (RRs) were estimated by Poisson regression, adjusted for age, sex, race and ethnicity, health plan, and calendar day. For a signal, a 1-sided P < .0048 was required to keep type I error below .05 during 2 years of weekly analyses. For 4 additional outcomes, including anaphylaxis, only descriptive analyses were conducted.

Results A total of 11 845 128 doses of mRNA vaccines (57% BNT162b2; 6 175 813 first doses and 5 669 315 second doses) were administered to 6.2 million individuals (mean age, 49 years; 54% female individuals). The incidence of events per 1 000 000 person-years during the risk vs comparison intervals for ischemic stroke was 1612 vs 1781 (RR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.87-1.08); for appendicitis, 1179 vs 1345 (RR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.73-0.93); and for acute myocardial infarction, 935 vs 1030 (RR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.89-1.18). No vaccine-outcome association met the prespecified requirement for a signal. Incidence of confirmed anaphylaxis was 4.8 (95% CI, 3.2-6.9) per million doses of BNT162b2 and 5.1 (95% CI, 3.3-7.6) per million doses of mRNA-1273.

Conclusions and Relevance In interim analyses of surveillance of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, incidence of selected serious outcomes was not significantly higher 1 to 21 days postvaccination compared with 22 to 42 days postvaccination. While CIs were wide for many outcomes, surveillance is ongoing.

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