A recent analysis by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that there may be a slight increase in the risk of stroke when the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are administered along with a high-dose flu vaccine. However, experts emphasize that neither study is definitive and further research is needed.
The risk association between the vaccines and stroke is most apparent in adults aged 85 and older who received the high-dose flu vaccine. However, the increase in risk, if real, appears to be very small, and it is unclear whether it is directly linked to the COVID-19 vaccine or the flu vaccine alone.
Another analysis by the FDA indicates a small increase in the incidence of seizures in children aged 2 to 5 after receiving the COVID-19 vaccines. These studies have not yet undergone peer review and publication in a scientific journal.
Despite these findings, experts stress that the benefits of vaccination still outweigh the risks, especially for older adults. Both influenza and COVID-19 themselves can raise the risk of stroke.
While the studies do not warrant a change in vaccine recommendations, they do suggest the need for further investigation. Dr. Susan Cheng, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, stresses the importance of data and evidence to avoid misconceptions.
The FDA plans to conduct a more robust study on seizures in children after vaccination. The agency acknowledges that small associations of increased risk may not be confirmed upon further investigation.
It is worth noting that both studies are based on observational data, which cannot establish cause and effect. Health officials are increasingly administering flu and COVID-19 vaccines together to improve vaccine uptake and logistical efficiency.
Dr. Marco Cavaleri, from the European Medicines Agency, urges caution in interpreting the data, emphasizing the need for larger datasets and data from different regions.
Overall, while the findings raise questions, experts agree that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the potential risks. Continued research and monitoring are necessary to gain a clearer understanding of any potential links between the vaccines and stroke or seizures.