It’s the kind of story that would have gotten a writer banned from social media just a few months ago: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday said a certain Covid-19 vaccine “safety signal” has been identified and the agency is investigating whether the vaccine creates an increased risk of ischemic stroke in people 65 and older.
But not to worry, the CDC said it is not changing its recommendation that everyone should get the Covid shot, starting as young as 6 months.
The government uses multiple, complementary safety monitoring systems to detect possible safety signals for vaccines and other medical countermeasures and to facilitate further investigation.
Often these safety systems detect signals that could be due to factors other than the vaccine itself.
“Following the availability and use of the updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccines, CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), a near real-time surveillance system, met the statistical criteria to prompt additional investigation into whether there was a safety concern for ischemic stroke in people ages 65 and older who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent. Rapid-response investigation of the signal in the VSD raised a question of whether people 65 and older who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent were more likely to have an ischemic stroke in the 21 days following vaccination compared with days 22-42 following vaccination,” the CDC said.
“This preliminary signal has not been identified with the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent. There also may be other confounding factors contributing to the signal identified in the VSD that merit further investigation.”
The CDC noted that no other safety systems have shown a similar signal and multiple subsequent analyses have not validated this signal:
- A large study of updated (bivalent) vaccines (from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) using the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services database revealed no increased risk of ischemic stroke
- A preliminary study using the Veterans Affairs database did not indicate an increased risk of ischemic stroke following an updated (bivalent) vaccine
- The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) managed by CDC and FDA has not seen an increase in reporting of ischemic strokes following the updated (bivalent) vaccine
- Pfizer-BioNTech’s global safety database has not indicated a signal for ischemic stroke with the updated (bivalent) vaccine
- Other countries have not observed an increased risk for ischemic stroke with updated (bivalent) vaccines
“All signals require further investigation and confirmation from formal epidemiologic studies. When one system detects a signal, the other safety monitoring systems are checked to validate whether the signal represents an actual concern with the vaccine or if it can be determined to be of no clinical relevance,” the CDC said.
Although the totality of the data currently suggests that it is very unlikely that the signal in VSD represents a true clinical risk, we believe it is important to share this information with the public, as we have in the past, when one of our safety monitoring systems detects a signal. CDC and FDA will continue to evaluate additional data from these and other vaccine safety systems. These data and additional analyses will be discussed at the upcoming January 26 meeting of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.
No change in vaccination practice is recommended. CDC continues to recommend that everyone ages 6 months of age and older stay up-to-date with Covid-19 vaccination; this includes individuals who are currently eligible to receive an updated (bivalent) vaccine.
“Staying up-to-date with vaccines is the most effective tool we have for reducing death, hospitalization, and severe disease from Covid-19, as has now been demonstrated in multiple studies conducted in the United States and other countries.
Overall CDC safety data for the bivalent Covid-19 vaccines are available here.
No change is recommended in Covid-19 vaccination practice, which can be found here.
In the Friday statement, the CDC said that the preliminary signal hasn’t been identified with the Bivalent Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
“Following the availability and use of the updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccines, CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), a near real-time surveillance system, met the statistical criteria to prompt additional investigation into whether there was a safety concern for ischemic stroke in people ages 65 and older who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent,” the CDC said.