Do influenza vaccinations increase the risk of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)?

Updated: Jul 14, 2021
  • Author: Michael T Andary, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Milton J Klein, DO, MBA  more...
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For example, a study by Kawai et al that monitored adverse events following administration of the 2012-13 influenza vaccines found no association between the vaccines and GBS. Results were based on 3.6 million first doses of inactivated influenza vaccine in patients aged 6 months and older and 250,000 first doses of live attenuated vaccine in patients aged 2-49 years. [56]

A study by Dieleman et al researched the association between the pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 vaccine and GBS in 104 patients in 5 European countries. Adjusting for the effects of influenzalike illness/upper respiratory tract infection, seasonal influenza vaccination, and calendar time, the authors concluded that there was no increased risk of occurrence of GBS after receiving the pandemic influenza vaccine. [57]

Similarly, a study conducted by the Chinese Centers for Disease Control found no evidence of increased risk of GBS from administration of the H1N1 vaccine, following the administration of 89.6 million doses of the vaccine between September 21, 2009 and March 21, 2010. [58]

Epidemiologic studies from Finland and southern California failed to validate an earlier retrospective study from Finland that suggested a cause-effect relationship between oral polio vaccination and GBS. [59, 60] In contrast, a Brazilian study suggested that, based on a temporal association between the vaccine and the onset of GBS, the vaccine may rarely correlate with the syndrome. [61]

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