Can GBS Return Following COVID Vaccination?

September 7, 2021

research letter, published in JAMA Network last week, studied the rate of recurrent Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) following vaccination with the mRNA Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and found the risk to be extremely low. This retrospective cohort study utilized medical data from the second largest health maintenance organization in Israel,* including 579 previously diagnosed GBS patients who had received at least one vaccine dose, 539 who had received two doses, and 38 who had COVID-19 and needed only one dose according to the Israeli Ministry of Health guidelines. Of these 579 patients, 48 were seen in a hospital following vaccination, though only one needed “short medical care for relapse of previous syndrome, which represents a minimal risk” according to the researchers.

* The investigators point out that the study only included hospital visits, and that details on the reason for hospitalization remained vague. Additionally, the inclusion of hospital visits alone may “underestimate other symptoms that presented only in the community. Nevertheless, any significant serious neurologic concern would probably have been evaluated in a hospital setting.”