COVID, Flu Vaccines Might Raise Risk of Strokes in Older People

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Oct. 26, 2023 – Vaccines for COVID-19 and flu might raise the risk of strokes for older people, especially when given together and to seniors over 85, new research says.

"There is no need for panic, and emphatically no need to stop giving COVID and flu shots at the same time to older adults," Peter Chin-Hong, MD, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, told ABC News.

The results were also not yet peer reviewed, ABC News reported.

The FDA told ABC News it is "confident in the safety, effectiveness and quality of the COVID-19 vaccines that the agency has authorized and approved."

FDA researchers raised the concern after reviewing Medicare claims, CNN reported.

The FDA-identified risk is small – about three strokes or transient ischemic attacks per 100,000 doses, CNN wrote. “The study found it may be primarily driven by the high-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccines, which are specially designed to rev up the immune system so it mounts a stronger response to the shot.”

The FDA found a slightly higher risk of stroke for people 65 and older who had received only a high-dose flu shot – one to two strokes per 100,000 doses.

“The absolute risk is miniscule,” Steve Nissen, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic told CNN. “I mean it is trivial in comparison to the risk for people over 85 of dying from Covid.”

Other studies have not found any additional risk of stroke after vaccination for Covid-19, influenza, or both.