'Very unlikely' Pfizer booster comes with stroke risk for seniors, CDC says

Virus Outbreak California
Posted at 3:16 PM, Jan 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-16 17:49:21-05

(WXYZ) —  In today’s Health Alert, the investigation into Pfizer’s bivalent booster causing potential strokes in seniors is ongoing, but the CDC says the risk is “very unlikely." According to the CDC, one of the monitoring systems detected a preliminary safety signal for stroke.

There are multiple safety monitoring systems in place. They’re designed to help detect potential safety signals - meaning they’re looking for any possible health issue that might be linked to a vaccine. One of the systems is the Vaccine Safety Datalink. It provides data via patients’ electronic health records. And this particular surveillance system detected a possible increase in a type of stroke – called an ischemic stroke - in 135 people ages 65 and older. These seniors reportedly had a stroke within 21 days of getting Pfizer’s bivalent booster shot.

Now, when one monitoring system detects a safety signal, the other systems are checked. And none of the four separate systems found a similar safety issue, including the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and two studies involving the Veterans Affairs database and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services database. Plus, no other countries have found an increased risk for an ischemic stroke either.

An ischemic stroke is most often caused by a blood clot that obstructs or plugs a blood vessel in the brain. It prevents brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients, which then causes brain cells to die. A stroke is a medical emergency as it can cause permanent brain damage and, in severe cases, even death. I am quite passionate about stroke prevention and getting immediate attention if you suspect one, as my beloved father suffered a devastating stroke. Unfortunately, he was never the same again.

As for the 135 seniors who reportedly suffered an ischemic stroke, none of them died. And no, the CDC has not recommended any changes regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Data shows that an updated COVID vaccine reduces hospitalization by nearly 3-fold compared to those who have not received an updated vaccine. And the risk of death is reduced by nearly 19-fold compared to those who are not vaccinated. In addition, world data found bivalent vaccines can provide more than 80% protection against severe disease and death.

As for the investigation, it is still ongoing even though it looks like there is not a true health risk concerning strokes. The CDC, as well as the FDA, will continue to monitor the surveillance systems. And the data concerning ischemic stroke and any additional info will be discussed at the FDA’s upcoming Advisory Committee meeting on January 26th.