COVID-19Drugs & MedicationsPreventive Medicine


Have you heard the latest about the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster? There’s always something, you know! This time, there are serious concerns the “bivalent booster” may increase the risk of stroke in people over age 65 who receive the vaccine. Yes, the CDC is reporting that within the first three weeks after receiving the shot, adults over age 65 are at increased risk of having an ischemic stroke—one caused by a blood clot in an artery of the brain. “Of about 550,000 seniors who got Pfizer bivalent boosters and were tracked by the Vaccine Safety Datalink, 130 had strokes in the three weeks after the shot.” That’s potentially a disaster and further taints the public trust in this COVID-19 vaccine. Similar information has not been reported for Moderna’s vaccine, however.

Some experts have pointed out this is a small number of strokes (130) out of a huge number of people (550,000). It’s not known, of course, if this number exceeds the number of strokes that might have occurred anyway (without the vaccine being given). On the other hand, experts have also said the FDA has withdrawn vaccines with adverse issues for far fewer incidents than the current vaccine presents. Pfizer denies there is a problem and report stoke has not been a reported in other countries. 

The CDC is not recommending any changes to their vaccination policy at this time and state the risk of COVID-19 disease still outweighs any issues around the vaccines. They brazenly state that “the biggest takeaway is that the safety surveillance system is working.” Never mind this vaccine may have caused 130 ischemic strokes, at least our adverse events detection system worked well enough to find them. That’s like saying the patient may have died, but it’s a good thing we knew about it!

These COVID-19 vaccines continue to exist under a cloud of suspicion and doubt. At first we were told they would prevent us from getting COVID-19. Then we heard about people who got COVID despite being vaccinated. Later, it was the concern about myocarditis occurring from the vaccine in teens and young adults, and all the controversy surrounding that. Now this. What do we do about this? Do we get boosted any way? When will the CDC, FDA, HHS, NIH, and the NIAID get this right? I don’t know, but it ruins public trust when incidents like this occur. The medical catastrophe that seniors fear most is having a stroke. When you get a bad headache, when your BP gets too high, or you bump your head, you immediately worry about a stroke. Adding the risk of a controversial vaccine doesn’t give us much comfort. I’m not normally one to buck the system, but I have chosen not to take this booster. I had my annual flu shot, but I passed on the COVID booster. Time will tell if I made the right decision. 

Reference: AAFP Family Medicine Today. “CDC, FDA, Investigate Potential Stroke Risk Tied to Pfizer-BioNTech Bivalent COVID-19 Booster. 2023 Jan 17.

Related Articles

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button